Statin Side Effects Beginning to Scare Off Some Consumers: Study

Concerns over the potential side effects of blockbuster cholesterol fighting drugs, known as statins, may be causing some consumers to stay away from the medications, according to the findings of a recent study. 

In a report published in the European Heart Journal on December 2, researchers from Denmark indicate that the more the public hears about potential negative side effects of statins, such as Lipitor, Crestor and other blockbuster treatments for high cholesterol, the more likely they are to discontinue use.

The study looked at 674,900 people ages 40 and over who were placed on statin therapy from 1995 to 2010 and who were tracked until December 31, 2011. They found that users who were exposed to negative news stories about statins had a 1.3% increased risk of stopping medication early.

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Researchers warn that those who discontinued use faced a 26% increased risk of heart attack and an 18% increased risk of death due to heart disease, highlighting the importance of patients talking to their doctors before discontinuing statin use.

The study comes amid increasing concerns about the potential “statinization” of America that may result from recent guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC). The groups indicate that statins are the only drugs doctors should prescribe to lower cholesterol and call for doctors to toss out traditional cholesterol goal numbers, potentially keeping patients on the drugs permanently.

Statins like Lipitor and Crestor generate combined sales of more than $14.5 billion per year, and are increasingly used to block the body’s creation of cholesterol, which is a key contributor to coronary artery disease.

Although the medications are widely used, a number of studies have linked statins to an increased risk of potentially serious injuries, including muscle damage, kidney problems, and diabetes.

Crestor, Lipitor Diabetes Lawsuits

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 the drug maker knew or should have known about risks associated with their medication for years, but withheld diabetes warnings 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.


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