Crestor is a drug made by AstraZeneca used to treat high cholesterol. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Crestor in 2003 to be used concurrently with healthy lifestyle changes to lower levels of so-called bad cholesterol. This is supposed to in turn, reduce the risk of a patient having a heart attack or stroke.
AstraZeneca has seen huge success with Crestor as one of the top-selling statin drugs in the U.S. It heavily marketed the drug to consumers and made major claims about how much it could lower cholesterol levels. What the company may have downplayed too much are the Crestor side effects which have proven to be damaging for some people. In some cases, the side effects were so damaging that lawsuits have been started against the company for negligence.
Crestor and its Uses
Crestor is a type of drug called a statin, which means it is used to lower the levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, while increasing the amount of HDL, or good cholesterol in the blood. The generic name for Crestor is rosuvastatin. When approved by the FDA in 2003 Crestor was supposed to be used along with exercise, a healthy diet, and weight loss to boost an improvement in cholesterol levels. Adults and children over the age of 10 may be prescribed Crestor when these lifestyle changes are not enough to get cholesterol levels to healthy numbers.
Statins like Crestor work by blocking the action of an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, which has an important part in the process of making cholesterol. By blocking this enzyme rosuvastatin can slow down how much LDL is produced, and even eliminate some of the cholesterol that is already in the body, lining the insides of blood vessels.
Common Side Effects
For many people the benefits of using Crestor to lower blood cholesterol levels easily come out on top when weighed against the risks. This is because lowering cholesterol can actually reduce the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease or strokes. On the other hand, Crestor does cause some side effects, some of which can be serious. For most people, though, the side effects that are most common are not that serious.
Some of these more common side effects are joint aches, headaches, insomnia, stomach pain, constipation, memory loss, confusion, and depression. These side effects should disappear or at least become less severe with more time on the medication as the body gets acclimated to a new substance.
Signs that the side effects are more severe and require medical attention or should at least be reported to a doctor include flu-like symptoms, dark urine, jaundice, chest pains, muscle pains, and pain in the upper abdomen. Signs of a severe allergic reaction should be treated as an emergency and include hives, rashes, itchy skin, swelling in the face, mouth, and throat, and difficulty breathing and swallowing.
Less common than the milder side effects are problems with the liver. Crestor can cause liver damage in some people and this can become serious if not recognized and addressed. The labeling information for Crestor does warn that people with any type of liver damage or disease, or a history of it should not be using the medication.
The information about liver damage and Crestor comes from research that has found all statins can increase the amount of enzyme produced by the liver. The larger the dose of medication and the longer it is used, the more pronounced this becomes. It isn’t common, but for some patients within about two to four months of taking the drug, liver damage may occur. Hepatitis, inflammation of the liver, is also possible. Anyone taking Crestor, with or without a history of liver problems, should be regularly screened for liver damage.
Muscle Problems and Rhabdomyolysis
Muscle pain is a side effect of Crestor to be taken seriously. This is because in rare cases this muscle pain may be an indication of a serious disease called rhabdomyolysis. This occurs when muscles break down to an extent that is not normal and muscle tissue ends up in the blood stream and in the kidneys. Muscle pain may be caused by something else, but other clues that it is rhabdomyolysis include weak muscles, fatigue, joint pain, less urine output, and dark-colored urine.
Rhabdomyolysis is serious because if not treated it can lead to kidney damage, kidney failure, and ultimately death. The muscle tissue that ends up in the bloodstream is filtered through the kidneys and this causes a lot of damage. Over time the damage can be severe, but if caught early enough it can be reversed.
Just how damaging Crestor can be to muscles has been controversial. AstraZeneca and the FDA may have known about the risk of rhabdomyolysis early on and failed to report it. Evidence from research since Crestor has been on the market has proved there is a risk and some experts have asked for a recall. The only warning the FDA has issued about the muscle side effects is a 2004 statement that patients of Asian ethnicity may be at a greater risk of muscle damage from Crestor.
Kidney damage can be a side effect of Crestor in patients who develop rhabdomyolysis, but also in other patients who have not developed the muscle condition. Some reports have stated that in the first year Crestor came on the market, it led to nearly 30 cases of kidney failure. Protein in the urine, a sign of kidney damage has been found in some patients using the drug as well.
Type 2 Diabetes
In 2008 a study involving Crestor, which included nearly 18,000 patients, found that people using the drug had an increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. For someone taking any kind of statin, the risk was increased by nine percent. In another study researchers found that the risk was present even with low doses of statins. The consequences of Type 2 diabetes can be severe and lifelong, so watching out for this condition while on Crestor is important.
The Crestor side effects that are possible for anyone taking this type of statin range from mild to life-threatening. If you have taken Crestor and suffered from some of the more serious side effects, you may have ended up with serious medical bills, a lot of pain and suffering, and other consequences. If you did you may have been tempted to file a lawsuit. Others who have suffered the side effects felt the same and have started suits against AstraZeneca. Talk to a lawyer to find out if you might have a case and if you could be eligible for compensation.