Lipitor and Diabetes In Women: A Timeline of the Growing Lipitor Type 2 Diabetes Controversy
Written by Stephen Fields on December 17, 2013
Lipitor and other statins have long been widely prescribed among Americans. In fact, Lipitor is the best-selling prescription medication of all time. For years, doctors and researchers have praised Lipitor for preventing heart attacks with relatively few side effects. Now, under new statin guidelines from the American Heart Association, the already large number of Americans taking these drugs could double.
What is worrisome about this increase in statin use is that it comes at a time of increasing concern about statin side effects. Numerous doctors, including Eric Topol of the Scripps Institute (The Diabetes Dilemma for Statin Users) and NYU Clinical Instructor Kelly Brogan (Statins for Women? Not for My Patients), are now expressing concern that the risks of statins could outweigh their benefits for some patients.
Of particular concern has been new research indicating a previously unknown side effect—a possible link between Lipitor and diabetes in women.
Below, I’ll present a brief timeline of research into Lipitor and the risk of diabetes in women.
1996: Lipitor Introduced in the U.S.
Lipitor, or atorvastatin, was introduced in 1996 to treat high cholesterol. It belongs to a class of drugs called statins, which work to reduce cholesterol production in the liver.
Sales of Lipitor were strong from the outset, and continued to grow as people became increasingly aware of their cholesterol levels. It went on to become the top-selling prescription drug of all time.
2010: Lancet Reveals a Potential Connection between Lipitor and Diabetes
The medical journal Lancet published a study in 2010 that examined the adverse effects of statins, including Lipitor. The study’s authors looked at medical data for more than 90,000 patients using this class of drugs. They found that those who were taking them showed a nearly 10 percent increased likelihood of being diagnosed with new-onset diabetes.1
2011: Studies Demonstrate Potential Differences Between Individual Statins and Diabetes
A study published in the journal Atherosclerosis indicated that statins including atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, and simvastatin all promote signiﬁcant increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
While the researchers noted a decrease in insulin sensitivity for patients taking atorvastatin (Lipitor) when compared with either baseline or with placebo (1-4%), they also noted varying results between specific studies. Further review by the researchers did not reveal a clear reason for the differences in the data. “It is not clear why atorvastatin has beneficial metabolic actions in some studies but not in others.” 2
2012: Researchers Focus on Lipitor and Diabetes in Older Women
In early 2012, a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine narrowed the focus of the data to determine whether postmenopausal women using statins could be at a considerably higher risk of diabetes. The study’s authors looked at medical data for nearly 162,000 women between 50 and 79 years of age. They found that the women who used statins were nearly 50% more likely to develop diabetes than those who did not.3
Although a possible diabetes risk for statin users had previously been established, this study revealed that women may be at an especially high risk. Unsurprisingly, this potential link between Lipitor and diabetes in women led to concern among women taking this drug.
2012: FDA Warns Public That Statins May Cause Diabetes
The month following the release of the JAMA study, the FDA issued a safety notification about changes that had been made to the product labels accompanying statins. Details were added to inform the public that use of the drugs had been associated with higher blood sugar levels and a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.4
This warning came 16 years after Pfizer began selling the drug.
Lipitor Diabetes Lawsuits Filed against Pfizer
As evidence of a link between Lipitor and diabetes in women continues to grow, women who developed diabetes are expressing frustration that they were not warned about Lipitor’s risks. Some have even made the decision to file Lipitor diabetes lawsuits against the drug’s manufacturer.
They argue that Pfizer, Lipitor’s maker, should have been aware of a diabetes risk well before the FDA compelled it to update Lipitor’s warning label in 2012. As a result of the company’s negligence, these women contend, they continued to take Lipitor and subsequently developed diabetes.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes after using Lipitor, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced Lipitor side effects lawyer to discuss your case for free.
Call our offices today to learn about your legal options—1-888-578-4755
1. Statins and risk of incident diabetes: a collaborative meta-analysis of randomised statin trials
2. Differential metabolic effects of distinct statins
3. Statin Use and Risk of Diabetes Mellitus in Postmenopausal Women in the Women’s Health Initiative
4. FDA Expands Advice on Statin Risks