What is Lipitor?
Lipitor (atorvastatin) is a type of cholesterol-lowering drug known as a statin, which helps reduce the amount of free-floating fatty substances in the blood. This helps prevent the formation of plaques in major arteries, which can cut off circulation and cause a deadly heart attack or stroke. Many doctors routinely prescribed Lipitor to patients with LDL cholesterol over 130 or total cholesterol over 200.
What is the problem?
Lipitor clearly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease for people with pre-existing heart disease, but over a dozen studies have shown that Lipitor has little benefit for people who are otherwise healthy except having high cholesterol. In addition, numerous studies have found that Lipitor can have severe side effects, such as:
- Type-2 diabetes
- Muscle pain (myalgia or myopathy)
- Kidney failure
- Memory loss
- Liver damage
- And more
FDA Warning for Lipitor and Diabetes
In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a Safety Warning for Lipitor and diabetes after a study linked statins to a 9% increased risk of diabetes. The FDA added warnings about the risk of new-onset type-2 diabetes and increases in HbA1c and/or fasting plasma glucose.
50% Higher Risk of Diabetes for Older Women on Lipitor
Millions of women over 50 years old who take Lipitor could be 48% more likely to be diagnosed with type-2 diabetes compared to women who are not on a cholesterol-lowering medication, according to a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine in January 2012.
The researchers’ conclusions were based on data from over 161,000 post-menopausal women ages 50-79 who were followed for 15 years. Approximately 10% of older women on statins were diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, compared to 6.4% of women who did not.
Lipitor and Cataracts
Cholesterol is necessary for the lens of the eye to maintain transparency, and some studies have linked cholesterol-lowering statins to an increased risk of cataracts (blindness caused by progressive clouding of the lens of the eye). In September 2013, JAMA Ophthalmology published a study linking Lipitor to a 27% increased risk of cataracts.
Lipitor and Muscle Pain
One of the most common side effects of Lipitor is muscle pain, which is estimated to affect up to 15% of people on statins. In some cases, patients also develop joint pain in their knees and shoulders. Over time, muscle problems can lead to a degenerative muscle disease called myopathy. Another complication is kidney damage or rhabdomyolysis, which is a type of kidney failure that occurs when damaged muscle fibers release protein into the bloodstream.
Lipitor Lawsuits Centralized in Federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL)
In February 2014, a panel of federal judges ordered that 56 Lipitor lawsuits pending in the federal court system, as well as 170 tag-along actions, must be centralized. The Lipitor Multi-District Litigation (MDL) will be located in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina before Judge Richard M. Gergel.