New Study Highlights Risk of Diabetes from Lipitor, Other Statins

According to the findings of a new study, side effects of Lipitor and other similar cholesterol drugs appear to substantially increase the risk of diabetes, providing additional support for a growing number of Lipitor diabetes lawsuits being filed throughout the country.  

Canadian researchers published a study this month in the British Medical Journal, indicating that Lipitor users are 22% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than those not given the drug.

Researchers looked at data on about half a million residents in Ontario, Canada, and looked at diabetes onset among those taking a class of cholesterol fighting drugs known as statins.

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The study found that Lipitor was associated with the greatest risk of diabetes. Other cholesterol drugs that ranked highly include Crestor, which was associated with an 18% increased risk of diabetes, and Zocor, which was associated with a 10% increased risk of diabetes.

While the study indicates that it does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship, it adds to the mounting evidence that highlight the link between Lipitor and diabetes. This study was limited because information was not available about patient weight and cholesterol levels at the time they started taking the medications.

Lipitor Lawsuits Over Diabetes Risks

In recent months, a mounting number of lawsuits have been filed against Pfizer alleging that the drug maker failed to adequately warn consumers or the medical community about the risk of diabetes from side effects of Lipitor.

Statins are among the most widely used medications in the U.S., prescribed to millions of people to lower cholesterol by reducing blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is a major contributor to coronary artery disease. Some other commonly marketed prescriptions of statins include: Advicor, Altoprev, Crestor Lescol, Lovalo, Mevacor, Pravachol, Simcor, Vytorin and Zocor.

Out of all medications sold in the United States, Lipitor (atorvastatin) is one of the most commonly used brand-name medications, generating an estimated $125 billion in sales for Pfizer before it became available as a generic in 2011. The medication has been heavily promoted in direct-to-consumer advertisements, encouraging patients to speak to their doctor about whether they need to be placed on Lipitor to maintain their health.

In February 2012, Pfizer updated the warning label for Lipitor to provide information to consumers or the medical community for the first time about the potential risk of changes in blood sugar levels. However, lawsuits allege the Lipitor diabetes warnings still fail to adequately warn about the risk and that the drug maker withheld information about the importance of monitoring for changes in blood glucose levels while taking the medication.

Late last month, a request was filed to centralize the Lipitor diabetes litigation before one judge for coordinated handling as part of an MDL or multi-district litigation. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is expected to hear oral arguments on the motion in July.

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