It is prescribed to help reduce LDL cholesterol levels in individuals who are at risk of cardiovascular disease.
The drug works by inhibiting HMG-CoA, an enzyme located in the liver responsible for producing 80 percent of the cholesterol count in the body. By limiting the cholesterol production at the source, the body pulls extra cholesterol out of the bloodstream.
Lipitor is in a category of drugs called statins, which work in a similar fashion to help prevent heart attack and stroke. This group of drugs as a whole has been linked to serious side effects including the development of type 2 diabetes, as well as kidney, liver, and muscle disease.
Lipitor is unique because it is the only statin that is completely synthetic. Women using it have reported several complications that raise concerns over whether or not the medication is safe.
Lipitor has been an extremely successful medication, with data showing that:
- worldwide sales are nearly $130 billion; and
- in the United States, more than 29 million people have prescriptions for Lipitor.
Given the importance of Lipitor to Pfizer’s bottom line, the company is aggressively defending the lawsuits. The company has denied that Lipitor causes diabetes and has stated that it is“an extremely safe drug,” a medication that has been studied extensively, and a drug whose manufacturer lists any potential side-effects or adverse effects in three locations:
- on the drug’s label;
- in the company’s advertising for Lipitor; and
- on the company’s website.
Despite the aggressive posture of the manufacturers, persons injured by this drug or other statins are entitled to be heard and to have their day in court with the help of a Lipitor lawyer.
Several medications exhibit potential serious side effects and complications. Pharmaceutical companies are required to extensively research and test their products before releasing them to the general public. Many drug companies, however, push dangerous drugs to the market without performing adequate research and testing.
In suppressing the liver enzyme, Lipitor also suppresses insulin production. In fact, as early as 2012, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the link between statins and Type 2 Diabetes.
Other serious Lipitor side-effects that should be discussed with your lawyer include:
- Dizziness: As blood sugar levels are forced out of balance, many people report feeling lightheaded or faint, making it difficult to drive a car or perform other everyday tasks.
- Muscle Weakness: The body sometimes compensates for blood sugar loss by siphoning energy from the muscles and transferring it to internal organs.
- Serious Skin Irritation: This condition normally results from an allergic reaction to the statin.
- Mental Effects: Lipitor is a powerful drug that often causes depression, nightmares, paranoia, and other symptoms.
Type 2 Diabetes
Reports have indicated that the cholesterol drug Lipitor may be a drug that was marketed to physicians and the public without proper research and testing. In early 2012, the FDA warned of new complications related to Lipitor use. These included the risk of women developing type 2 diabetes and the risk for developing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Subsequent studies have produced similar results.
Previously referred to as adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, type 2 diabetes causes your body to either build up a resistance to insulin or not produce enough insulin needed to metabolized glucose.
Glucose (sugar) is metabolized by the body to serve as a major energy source. Insulin allows glucose to enter cells, powering them and eliminating the risk of reaching a dangerous blood sugar level. However, when the body is resistant to insulin or does not produce insulin, a wide variety of health risks may affect the body.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is not believed to be entirely rooted in genetics. Rather, it is the lifestyle choices pursued by borderline diabetics that often determine if type 2 diabetes will develop and with what severity.
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most prominent diseases affecting Americans, with over 29 million Americans suffering from diabetes. Those 29 million Americans constitute nearly 9.3% of the American population with the numbers rising at a rate of 1.4 million Americans every year.
Atorvastatin is also an effective preventative drug for people with type 2 diabetes. Ironically, and researchers are still trying to determine why the drug also causes diabetes in up to 22 percent of patients.
That being said, doctors have identified what they believe to be some risk factors for Lipitor-induced diabetes:
- Females Over 65: The HMG-CoA enzyme may operate at different levels for men and women, but the drug is equally potent in both bodies.
- Additional Cholesterol-Lowering Medication: Sometimes these drugs remain in the bloodstream even after dosage stops, so there may be some overlap.
- Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol is a very powerful drug that is processed through the liver, and the additional chemical component may upset the body’s balance.
Even one of these risk factors may significantly increase the chances of developing Lipitor-induced diabetes. Other common side effects include confusion, muscle pain, constant diarrhea, and severe stomach pain leading to loss of appetite.
In addition to other severe complications, Lipitor has recently been linked to kidney disease. In some cases, patients who took Lipitor developed a rare form of muscle disease known as rhabdomyolysis.
This condition breaks down muscle tissue, creating dangerous substances that are able to enter the bloodstream. Once in the blood, these substances can cause significant damage to the kidneys. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended that physicians examine patients’ kidneys prior to prescribing them Lipitor since in some cases this condition has proven to be fatal.
Studies have indicated that Lipitor use can damage the liver, as well as cause liver failure. Therefore, it is recommended that statins not be prescribed to individuals who have pre-existing liver problems.
Other liver issues, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis, have been linked to Lipitor use. The FDA recommends liver enzyme tests to be conducted by a doctor to determine if statin usage is safe for the patient.
Research supports that users of Lipitor and other statins are at substantially greater risk of developing muscle disease. Myopathy, a condition where muscle tissue fibers do not function correctly, has developed in some patients who have been prescribed Lipitor. Some symptoms of this condition include weakness of the muscles and dark urine.
A link has also been found between statin use and a severe form of myopathy, known as rhabdomyolysis. In this condition, damaged muscle tissue cells enter the bloodstream. The disease can become life-threatening when these products make their way to the kidneys. In some cases, rhabdomyolysis can lead to kidney failure if not treated properly.
Pfizer, Inc., the manufacturer of Lipitor, is currently facing a slew of lawsuits by Lipitor patients in both the United States and in Canada.The lawsuits all allege that the plaintiffs suffered an injury as the result of taking Lipitor (most allege that their Type 2 diabetes was the result of using Lipitor). The plaintiffs also allege that Pfizer aggressively marketed this drug even though Pfizer knew – or should have known – about the serious health risks associated with Lipitor. The lawsuits also claim that Pfizer misled consumers and physicians by downplaying the serious side effects of their drug. Despite the negative press and the mounting litigation, Lipitor remains a popular cholesterol medication and is still frequently prescribed.
Despite the fact that Lipitor has been linked to severe medical complications, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to issue a recall for the drug.
Some of the conditions Lipitor has been associated with include type 2 diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and muscle disease. The FDA is still reviewing data on Lipitor to determine if the drug should be removed from the market.
Although Lipitor has not been recalled, you can still pursue legal action if you or someone you care about has been harmed by the drug with the help of a dedicated attorney.
Reach Out to Our Lipitor Attorneys
Lipitor lawsuits are filed against Pfizer, the drug company that manufactures, advertises, and sells the drug to consumers. Lawsuit allegations against the company include that it:
- Failed to warn the public of the risks associated with taking Lipitor
- Failed to properly test Lipitor for dangerous side effects
- Withheld research data from the public about the drug dangers
- Sold the drug even though it knew it could cause harm
- Manufactured and sold an unsafe product
If you took this drug and developed type 2 diabetes or other complications, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit for your injuries with the assistance of a Lipitor lawyer. Our legal team will review your medical records to determine if you have a case. If you do qualify for a claim, we will start your case immediately.