Lipitor is in the news and not only due to its marketed ability to reduce bad, or LDL, cholesterol in patients who need help in keeping their cholesterol levels in check. Lipitor is now being prescribed for off-label use as a preventative drug for individuals at risk for a heart attack or stroke, making it seem like a solution for Georgia residents with a risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor and other drugs that help manage cholesterol are classified as statin drugs. Statins work in the liver to reduce the LDL cholesterol and improve good, or HDL, cholesterol. Unfortunately, there are also significant reported side effects to statins. These side effects led the FDA to mandate earlier this year that a warning be placed on the label.
One of the reported side effects of statins is its effect on memory. Memory loss is prevalent across all age groups. Patients describe their thoughts and memory as being unfocused (www.fda.gov). While some patients reported immediately feeling unfocused, others took the medication for several years before noticing any cognitive effects. There is no way of telling whom memory issues will affect. Most patients’ cognitive abilities reportedly return to normal after stopping the drug.
Lipitor has always carried a warning for liver damage as a side effect. However, the FDA recently changed its protocol recommending regular testing for liver damage. They now recommend testing within the first six weeks on a statin regimen and any follow-up testing when symptoms occur. As one of the more devastating side effects of statins, liver damage often occurs before symptoms become noticeable. While some physicians continue regular testing, many follow the FDA’s recommendations.
Another side effect of statins is the potential for muscle damage. Approximately 10% of all patients on statins will develop some type of muscle pain, weakness or damage. This is more prevalent in patients who take other types of drugs that are metabolized in the same manner, but are not warned about the potential interaction. While generalized pain and weakness resolves after stopping the drug, permanent damage known as myopathy can result.
Type 2 diabetes has recently been discovered as one of the serious side effects of statins. Type 2 diabetes, or adult onset, is controlled by diet, exercise and insulin regulating drugs. Diabetes is quickly becoming an epidemic in America. Given the sheer number of patients taking statin drugs, the number of patients developing diabetes as a side effect of statins could be a contributing factor.
Anytime a drug is involved in a lawsuit, consumer should be aware. Pfizer, the manufacturer of Lipitor, is currently facing thousands of lawsuits in Georgia and other states because of the side effects of statins, diabetes in particular. Before starting on a statin regimen, be sure to discuss the benefits and potential for illness with your doctor.
Georgia residents who have developed diabetes, liver damage or other side effects of statins don’t have to be left with the aftermath alone. If you believe you are suffering from the side effects of statins and live in Georgia, contact Attorney Group for Georgia. We can provide you with a free consultation to discuss your options, and connect you with an affiliated attorney. Contact us today to learn more.