It seems that over the past few months, each day brings news regarding some popular drug that apart from doing its job in the treatment of some health condition, it raises the risks for others. Now, the latest to get under scrutiny from regulators are the cholesterol lowering drugs, such as Lipitor and the like, which are blamed for memory loss and diabetes.
A statement released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this week points out to a concerning aspect. Some of the most popular and used drugs for lowering cholesterol levels have been found to increase the risks of developing memory loss and diabetes. These drugs based on statins will carry new warnings on their labels and it applies to some of the most popular brands from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Merck & Co.
Basically, we’re talking about Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor the top brands in a market where cholesterol reducing drugs bring in about $30 billion. At the same time, as data from the National Center for Health Statistics points out, about 25 percent of the Americans over 45 years are currently taking in statins based drugs.
The issue at hand is serious enough. Amy Egan, deputy director for safety with the division of metabolism and endocrinology products of the FDA, explains that “the value of statins in preventing heart disease has been clearly established. Their benefit is indisputable, but they need to be taken with care and knowledge of side effects”.
The side effects Amy Egan is talking about are not to be taken at ease. Memory loss, confusion and increased blood sugar, resulting in diabetes, are all factors that physicians should definitely take into consideration when prescribing statin drugs.
The FDA bases its new decision on a study from the University of Massachusetts Medical School that pointed out women aged over 50 that are currently taking in statins present a 48 percent increased risk of developing diabetes. Last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a similar study that proved there’s an increased risk of developing diabetes for patients that are often taking large doses of cholesterol reducing drugs.