Lipitor has sold better than any other prescription drug, and Pfizer has made billions of dollars on this statin. It was developed to treat high cholesterol and to minimize the risks of complications resulting from having high cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Many people have benefitted from this medication, but some have suffered some very serious side effects and devastating complications.
Pfizer’s blockbuster drug has been connected to side effects that can be severe, but most importantly to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a chronic and potentially debilitating condition. People who now have type 2 diabetes because of taking Lipitor have sued Pfizer looking for compensation. They accuse the drug maker of failing to warn patients, unethical marketing, and more.
How Lipitor Is Used
Lipitor lawsuits could end in huge settlements for Pfizer because as the best-selling prescription drug of all time, millions of prescriptions have been written for it and many people have experienced negative health issues they blame on Lipitor. The drug is a statin, a class of drugs designed to lower LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising levels of the good kind of cholesterol, HDL.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Lipitor in 1996 and while the patent ran out years ago, Pfizer made a killing selling this drug to the public. Just one year of sales before the patent ran out numbered in the several billions of dollars. Statins like Lipitor are supposed to be used along with healthy lifestyle habits like diet and exercise to help reduce the risk of complications from high cholesterol. These include atherosclerosis, heart disease, and strokes.
Dangerous Liver Damage
Lipitor has been such a blockbuster drug at least in part because many people struggle to maintain healthy habits that keep cholesterol levels below a certain value. Unfortunately along with the reduced cholesterol which many people taking Lipitor have experienced, there have also been some serious consequences. Lipitor works on cholesterol by blocking an enzyme in the liver and one of the possible side effects of this is liver damage.
Patients with existing liver damage, liver disease, or any history or risk of liver problems is not supposed to take Lipitor. The risk is too great that Lipitor can contribute to harmful damage to this organ including cirrhosis, jaundice, hepatitis, and fatty liver, an issue typically seen in heavy drinkers and alcoholics. The instances of these issues connected to Lipitor are not common, but when the do happen it can be serious for the individual.
Muscle Damage and Pain
Another side effect of Lipitor that some people experience is muscle and joint pain. It may be mild or moderate in some patients, but more severe in others. A study found that the risk of this side effect is not insignificant. People on Lipitor were found to have a 19 percent greater risk of having muscle and joint pain, injury, or other issues.
One of the possible issues that may occur is myopathy, in which muscle tissue breaks down and enters the bloodstream. A severe version of this condition, caused rhabdomyolysis, can cause kidney failure and may ultimately be fatal if not treated. Drug maker Bayer paid $1 billion in settlements over its statin Baycol over rhabdomyolysis. The muscle problems may lead to more lawsuits for Pfizer in the future.
Diabetes and Lipitor Lawsuits
By far the most controversial possible side effect of Lipitor use is type 2 diabetes. This is a chronic condition in which a person has high blood sugar levels. The complications from diabetes that is not well controlled are as serious as nerve damage, eye damage, and much more. Studies into the connection between this condition and Lipitor have found that people on the drug have 10 to 22 percent increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes. This risk was found to be greater with Lipitor than with other types of statins.
Based on the evidence from studies and from individual reports, the FDA made an announcement in 2012 that Lipitor could cause high blood sugar levels, which over time could develop into type 2 diabetes. Studies also show that women past menopause are at the greatest risk. By 2012 millions of people had already taken Lipitor and some of them decided to file lawsuits against Pfizer over diabetes.
In 2014 a large group of hundreds of plaintiffs filing Lipitor lawsuits were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation. Including other lawsuits against the company because of diabetes, the total is probably over 1,000. Many of the plaintiffs are women who face the biggest risk from Lipitor.
What has complicated these cases is that although the FDA issued the warning about the risks of Lipitor, at the same time it emphasized that the benefits of the statin are still thought to be high in comparison to the risk. This could aid Pfizer’s argument that the risk is small and is outweighed by benefits of lowering cholesterol.
Reasons to File a Lipitor Lawsuit
If you took Lipitor and suffered any of the dangerous side effects, you may consider filing your own lawsuit against Pfizer. Current plaintiffs claim that Pfizer ignored the risks they knew came with taking Lipitor and that they marketed the drug as effective while downplaying these risks. The plaintiffs also accuse Pfizer of failing to warn patients of risks, of not labeling the medication properly, and of being negligent in their development of diabetes.
A lawsuit against Pfizer could represent a plea for justice. You may want Pfizer to pay punitive damages after making billions and billions of dollars selling a drug that has caused people harm. You may also want to recover monetary compensation based on how your life has been altered by developing type 2 diabetes or other conditions. Managing a chronic illness isn’t cheap and it may even cost you days at work and lost income. Lawsuits can provide people just like you with the opportunity to recover some of the financial losses that hit after an unscrupulous drug company sold a medication that caused harm.