Crestor is a popular statin drug used to treat high cholesterol for the purpose of preventing or treating heart disease. It was developed and brought to market by AstraZeneca and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2003.
While the company has made some impressive claims about Crestor, including the fact that it can reduce cholesterol by up to 52 percent, the medication has also been linked to some very serious side effects. The FDA has issued several warnings about the drug and has even considered pulling it from the market. Although Crestor remains available, it comes with serious safety warnings and has been the source of several lawsuits.
Crestor, Statins, and High Cholesterol
The generic name for Crestor is rosuvastatin and it belongs to a class of drug called statins. It is intended to be used along with a healthy diet, weight loss, and exercise to improve blood cholesterol levels. It helps to reduce levels of so-called bad cholesterol, or LDL and triglycerides, while increasing the amount of good cholesterol, HDL. It is indicated for adults and children over the age of ten whose cholesterol levels have not been successfully improved by lifestyle changes alone.
The statins are a class of drugs that act to inhibit an enzyme, called HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme plays an important role in the production of cholesterol in the body. By inhibiting it, statins slow down the production of LDL and even eliminate some of the cholesterol that has attached to the walls of arteries.
Statins like Crestor have been shown to be effective in reducing bad cholesterol and reducing the amount of cholesterol on artery walls. Because of these effects they treat and reduce the severity of cardiovascular diseases, which include angina, stroke, peripheral artery disease, venous thrombosis, cardiomyopathy, and many others. These drugs can reduce the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.
Crestor is not indicated for use in people who have liver disease or have a history of liver disease. It is also contraindicated for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant while taking it. Crestor may harm a developing fetus. It should also not be used while by a woman who is breastfeeding. Drinking alcohol is discouraged while taking Crestor.
Some of the more common and less serious side effects of Crestor include stomach pain, insomnia, dizziness, constipation, headaches, joint aches, depression, confusion, and memory loss. If you take Crestor and experience any of these side effects, you should tell your doctor, especially if any of them are severe or long-lasting.
Serious side effects are also possible and should be reported immediately and may even require emergency medical treatment. These include muscle pain, fever, chest pain, jaundice, fatigue, upper abdomen pain, bleeding and bruising, flu-like symptoms, dark colored urine, hives, a rash, itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing or swallowing.
While many of the possible side effects of using Crestor were clearly labeled from the beginning and were not necessarily serious when balanced against the benefits of the medication, a couple effects can be severe and may cause serious health problems. One of these is the possibility of liver damage, which is why Crestor is not recommended for anyone with liver disease or a history of liver disease.
Research has found that use of Crestor and other statins increases certain liver enzymes. The increase is more pronounced with larger doses. In rare cases, about one out of 10,000 patients taking Crestor, the medication may cause damage to the liver after about two to four months into the course. Crestor may also cause hepatitis in some patients.
The FDA recommends that patients undergo liver screening tests to ensure the organ is healthy and undamaged before starting a course of Crestor. They recommend testing again 12 weeks after starting Crestor and any time the dosage is increased.
Another major concern with using Crestor is the possibility of developing rhabdomyolysis. This is a condition that causes muscle tissue to breakdown. Substances from the muscle fiber end up in the blood stream and in the kidneys, where they can cause damage to these organs. Signs of rhabdomyolysis include muscle pain, joint pain, achiness, muscle weakness, fatigue, dark colored urine, and decreased output of urine. Someone with this condition may also gain weight or experience seizures.
It is important if you take Crestor that you are aware of these signs and report them immediately to your doctor. If you catch it early, while still a mild form of the condition, you can recover and return to normal muscle and kidney function. If the condition is left untreated for too long, it can lead to serious and permanent kidney damage or kidney failure.
Whistleblowers have found evidence online that the drug manufacturer and the FDA knew about the risk of rhabdomyolysis even before it was approved. Published in the medical journal The Lancet this evidence has been used by concerned doctors and others to request that the FDA recall Crestor. The FDA did issue a warning in 2004 that the drug increases the risk of muscle damage, especially in people of Asian ethnicity. It did not, however agree to recall Crestor. The FDA stated that the risk for muscle damage was no greater than that of other statins.
Lawsuits brought against AstraZeneca so far have focused mostly on rhabdomyolysis. Many people believe that the company did not adequately warn the public and that the consequences of developing the condition are serious enough to cause kidney failure and even death. Other suits have blamed the medication for serious liver damage, the development of type 2 diabetes, and serious memory loss.
If you have taken Crestor for cholesterol and believe that it has caused you to have serious and debilitating side effects, you may have a case against AstraZeneca. A lawsuit could help you recover monetary damages that will compensate you for the lifelong health problems you developed because of their medication.