Lipitor and Type 2 Diabetes
By David Carnes, Staff Writer
The anti-cholesterol drug atorvastatin calcium (popularly known as Lipitor), was the best-selling prescription drug in the United States in 2011, generating over $9.5 billion in revenue for Pfizer, the drug’s manufacturer. Although Lipitor recently lost patent protection, it still generated more than $2 billion in revenue in 2014. The risk associated with Lipitor was not widely known until recently, however.
A recent study concluded that Lipitor is associated with a 22 percent increase in the risk for Type 2 diabetes. This risk may be even higher for older women who take this drug. Research has indicated that Lipitor impairs the function of pancreatic cells that store and release insulin, thereby reducing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It is this process that is believed by some medical researchers to be responsible for the increased risk of Type II diabetes found in Lipitor users. Other anti-cholesterol drugs such as pravastatin and potentially fluvastatin do not carry the same diabetes risk that Lipitor does.
In 2014 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning stating that statins (a family of drugs including Lipitor) are associated with an increased risk of the development of Type 2 diabetes. The FDA followed up by ordering Pfizer to add warnings about diabetes risks to Lipitor’s labeling.
Pfizer was required to extensively test Lipitor and report the results of its tests before releasing Lipitor onto the market. Unfortunately, however, Pfizer provided misleading information, withheld information concerning Lipitor’s association with diabetes, and ignored numerous studies suggesting a link between Lipitor and diabetes, all the while aggressively promoting Lipitor as safe. Armed with proper warnings, doctors could have decided not to prescribe Lipitor to certain patients, and they could have monitored the blood glucose levels in patients to whom they did prescribe Lipitor.
The Deadly Progression
The old proverb beginning with “For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse…” is descriptive of the potential consequences of the Pfizer’s failure to warn about the risks associated with the use of Lipitor. The nail is lost when a patient is prescribed Lipitor without being warned of its association with diabetes. The shoe is lost if the patient develops diabetes as a result. If you use Lipitor and you have developed any of the following symptoms, you may have developed Type II diabetes:
- Frequent Urination
- Extreme hunger or thirst
- Unexplained weight Loss
- Frequent infections
- Impaired vision
- Slow healing of cuts and bruises
- Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet
If you develop diabetes, the horse will be lost if you develop any of the complicatons that sometimes accompany diabetes. Diabetes complications occur most frequently in people who ignore their symptoms because they do not realize they have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes complications include heart disease, nerve and kidney damage, eye damage, hearing loss, inflections and even Alzheimer’s disease.
In February 2014 a U.S. judicial panel decided to establish Multidistrict Litigation to handle the more than 300 Lipitor lawsuits that have already been filed nationwide. This figure likely underestimates the total number of Lipitor lawsuits that have been filed because it does not include cases filed in state courts. More filings are expected.
If you believe that you have been harmed by Lipitor, consider contacting a Lipitor attorney to advise you on your potential legal options. Defective drug lawyers will take your case on a contingency basis, meaning that you don’t pay unless you win.