Lipitor, a drug widely prescribed to reduce “bad” cholesterol in the body, may also cause diabetes in its users, according to several studies and a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Research shows that the diabetes risk is particularly high among older women.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes after being prescribed Lipitor, contact The Driscoll Firm, P.C., today at our toll-free number or by submitting our online contact form. An experienced lawyer from our firm would be happy to talk to you about your eligibility to seek compensation for medical expenses and other losses connected to your illness.
Lipitor, Statin Drugs Come Under Scrutiny
Lipitor, which is also called atorvastatin, belongs to a class of medications called “statin drugs.” Research has shown that these drugs can increase blood sugar levels and the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes. Lipitor has been singled out because the commonly prescribed high-dose regimens of this drug may increase the risk of developing diabetes at a higher rate than other statins, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).
Older women who take Lipitor are at particular risk. A University of Massachusetts Medical School study published in 2012 found that postmenopausal women on statin drugs showed a 48 percent increased rate of diabetes compared to those who were not on such cholesterol-lowering medications.
While diabetes is a controllable disease, the Mayo Clinic says that one-half to three-quarters of people with Type 2 diabetes will die from a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke or related complications. The JACC’s report on Lipitor and its link to diabetes said that a major cardiovascular event occurred in 17.5 percent of patients in the three clinical trials the journal reviewed.
Widespread Use of Lipitor and Other Statins
Lipitor is made by Pfizer Inc. Other statin drugs on the U.S. market include Crestor (rosuvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Livalo (pitavastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin).
Statins lower LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, by blocking an enzyme in the liver that the body uses to make cholesterol. As less cholesterol is made, the liver uses more of the cholesterol already existing in the blood. This reduces blood-cholesterol levels.
The first statin drug approved for the U.S. market was lovastatin, a Merck product, which was released in 1987. By 2011, nearly 21 million patients in the U.S. were prescribed statins, according to The New York Times.
The UMass Medical School study of statins found that the rate of Americans over age 45 taking statins has increased tenfold over the last 20 years. Federal data also shows that 39 percent of women age 75 and older are taking statins, while 50 percent of men ages 65 to 74 are doing so.
Despite calling the introduction of statins a success story, the FDA acknowledges that Lipitor and other statins can cause several adverse side effects, including liver damage and the development of diabetes.
In February 2012, the FDA required labels on statins to include a warning to healthcare professionals and patients of the potential risk of increased blood sugar levels and of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus after taking the drugs.
Lipitor and the Diabetes Threat
The FDA’s warning about the possibility of developing diabetes after taking statin drugs like Lipitor says that “increases in blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) have been reported with statin use.” The notice adds that “the FDA is also aware of studies” showing that use of statins may increase the risk of higher blood-sugar levels and of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
These studies would include, but not necessarily be limited to:
- A January 2012 UMass Medical School study that focused on 153,840 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79 who were followed by the Women’s Health Initiative for 15 years. The study found that statin use was associated with a 48 percent increased risk of diabetes.
- Three large randomized clinical trials published by the JACC in 2011 that showed that 80-mg doses of Lipitor were associated with an increased risk of new-onset diabetes.
- A study published by the British medical journal The Lancet in 2010 that said statin therapy was associated with a 9 percent increased risk for incident diabetes.
Complications from type 2 diabetes can be disabling or even life-threatening, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease, including heart attack and stroke
- Nerve damage (neuropathy)
- Kidney damage (nephropathy)
- Eye damage
- Hearing impairment
- Foot damage
- Skin and mouth conditions
- Osteoporosis (loss of bone density).
Get Help Today from an Experienced Lipitor Diabetes Risk Lawyer
The personal injury and wrongful death lawyers of The Driscoll Firm, P.C., are concerned about the risk among statin drug patients of developing, particularly for older women taking Lipitor (atorvastatin) before the FDA’s February 2012 label change.
If you or a loved one has been prescribed Lipitor and developed diabetes or another serious adverse reaction to this statin, contact The Driscoll Firm without delay through our toll-free number or online form.
The Driscoll Firm, P.C., has a successful record of assisting clients who have been injured by dangerous pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Our founding attorney, John J. Driscoll, is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
You may be eligible to obtain compensation for current and future medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering. We can provide a free initial consultation about your case today.
For more information:
- FDA announces safety changes in labeling for some cholesterol-lowering drugs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Statins: A Success Story Involving FDA, Academia and Industry, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Predictors of New-Onset Diabetes in Patients Treated With Atorvastatin, Journal of the American College of Cardiology
- Statin use associated with increased diabetes risk in women, University of Massachusetts Medical School
- Statins and risk of incident diabetes: a collaborative meta-analysis of randomised statin trials, The Lancet
- Safety Alerts Cite Cholesterol Drugs’ Side Effects, The New York Times
- Lipitor atorvastatin calcium tablets, Pfizer Inc.
- Type 2 diabetes, Mayo Clinic