The findings of a new study provide further evidence that side effects of Lipitor, Crestor and other statin cholesterol drugs increase the risk of diabetes, suggesting that about one out of every five cases diagnosed among users of the popular medications may be caused by the drugs.
According to findings published last week in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the popular class of drugs significantly increases the risk of diabetes. However, researchers from the National Heart and Lung Institute in Imperial College London, in the U.K., found that there does not appear to be a link between use of statins and muscle injuries.
Researchers looked at data from 14 primary prevention trials involving more than 46,000 subjects, where people were given either a statin or a placebo.
The study found no association between use of the cholesterol drugs and muscle injury, which has been suggested by previous studies. However, they found that 3% of those taking statins were later diagnosed with diabetes, as compared with 2.4% of those who were given a placebo. This means that one out of every five people who develops diabetes while taking statins may have developed the disease because of the statin they were taking.
Statin Diabetes Concerns
The research is the latest in a string of studies that have found a link between diabetes and Lipitor, Crestor and other statin medications.
Statins are among the best-selling drugs in the United States, with $14.5 billion in combined sales in 2008. They use the liver to block the body’s creation of cholesterol, which is a key contributor to coronary artery disease. However, a number of studies have linked the drugs to an increased risk of potentially serious injuries, including muscle damage, kidney problems, and diabetes.
In February 2012, the FDA required the makers of Lipitor, Crestor and other statins to add new warnings about the potential impact of the medication on blood glucose levels. However, many critics have suggested that the warnings are not strong enough for certain medications, indicating that users and the medical community should be provided with more accurate information about the diabetes risks with Lipitor, Crestor and other statins.
Pfizer currently faces hundreds of Lipitor diabetes lawsuits filed by women throughout the United States, who allege that use of the medication as a preventative measure to prevent heart failure has caused them to develop diabetes, which carries a number of health risks, including an increased risk of heart disease. Plaintiffs claim that the drug maker knew or should have known about Lipitor diabetes problems for years, but withheld information to avoid a negative impact on sales and growth of the blockbuster medication.
AstraZeneca also faces a number of Crestor lawsuits filed on behalf of former users of the cholesterol drug who were diagnosed with diabetes. Most of those cases are currently pending in California state court.
Late last year the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology called for new heart guidelines which some say would put millions of additional Americans on Lipitor, Crestor and other cholesterol drugs indefinitely. The recommendations suggest that statins should be the only drugs doctors prescribe to lower cholesterol levels and call for doctors to toss out cholesterol goal numbers, potentially keeping patients on the drugs permanently.