A woman claims she developed Type 2 diabetes after taking the cholesterol lowering medication, Lipitor (atorvastatin), for about 10 years.
The woman alleges in a lawsuit brought against drug maker, Pfizer Inc., that she took Lipitor to lower her cholesterol only to learn that the drug caused her to develop Type 2 diabetes, according to Law360. She also alleges that Pfizer hid Lipitor’s ties to increased blood levels until last year, according to the complaint filed in Louisiana federal court.
The lawsuit claims that Pfizer did not include a warning about increased glucose levels tied to Lipitor until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested the drug maker include those warning in 2011, which was after the agency conducted a review of the medication, according to Law360. The warning, according to the lawsuit’s allegations, still does not sufficiently warn about the “serious” risk of developing Type 2 diabetes associated with taking Lipitor, despite that Pfizer and its predecessors were in possession of data that indicated this risk since as far back as 1996, according to the complaint allegations.
At that time, the FDA warned that statins not only raise blood sugar levels, but may also cause memory loss; statin labels were updated to reflect these potential side effects.
Lipitor is in a class of drugs known as statins, which are prescribed to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and were associated with an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, in a prior study. Canadian researchers reviewed 1.5 million people over the age of 66 in a report published in the British Medical Journal, according to BBC News Health. The study found that statins, such as Lipitor, could increase risks for developing Type 2 diabetes by 22 percent when compared to less potent options. In fact, Lipitor was associated with one extra case of Type 2 diabetes for every 160 patients treated.
Statins are considered the best selling drugs worldwide and are prescribed to people who are diagnosed with obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome—a dangerous health combination that includes excess body fat and/or high blood pressure—, blood sugar, and/or high cholesterol, according to Medical News Today. Statins are prescribed to reduce cholesterol to prevent potentially fatal blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.
Drugs in the statin class are also known to carry increased risks for myopathy (severe muscle damage) and should be prescribed with caution and at the lowest possible effective dose to reduce risks for these side effects. Also, another study found that statins may minimize exercise benefits in obese adults.
We also previously wrote that a BMJ article looked at the association between statins and kidney damage. Data from over 2 million patient records were reviewed and involved Zocor, Lipitor, and Crestor. The researchers concluded that patients prescribed these high-potency statins exhibited increased risks for hospitalization for acute kidney injury when compared to patients taking lower-potency statins. The researchers urged physicians to consider this risk when considering patient treatment options when patients’ kidney injury risks persisted for at least two years.
Prior studies have also found that people who take statins may face increased risks for developing age-related cataracts and that the association between statins and cataracts may be the same as for Type 2 diabetes, which is a known risk factor for age-related cataracts. That finding is significant because statin use is typically greater in Type 2 diabetics when compared to the general population. An analysis of previously conducted clinical trials cast doubt on statin efficacy in the prevention of blood clots, and a prior ScienceDaily report found that 30 prior trials of statin drugs revealed that the drugs are barely effective at preventing blood clots, if at all.