Study Finds No Link Between Cholesterol Drugs and Memory Loss

New research suggests that there may not be a link between popular cholesterol drugs, such as Lipitor and Crestor, and an increased risk of memory loss, indicating that no differences were seen among users of these and other cholesterol drugs. 

In a study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine on June 8, researchers from the University of Pennslyvania’s Perelman School of Medicine report that past associations between the class of cholesterol drugs known as statins and cognitive problems show inconsistencies, and when they compared the effects of statins and non-statin lipid-lowering drugs (LLDs), both showed similar memory loss within the first month of use.

“Both statins and nonstatin LLDs were strongly associated with acute memory loss in the first 30 days following exposure in users compared with nonusers but not when compared with each other,” the researchers concluded. “Thus, either all LLDs cause acute memory loss regardless of drug class or the association is the result of detection bias rather than a causal association.”

Researchers looked at data on nearly 500,000 statin users through December 16, 2013 using data from the Health Improvement Network database.

In 2012, the FDA warned that statins were linked to an increased risk of cognitive problems. A study published in April also found that cognitive side effects, along with an increased risk of diabetes may make the risks of statins outweigh the benefits in some cases.

Crestor, Lipitor Diabetes Lawsuits

Statins 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 memory loss, 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 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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