As has been widely reported, Lipitor is the largest selling drug in history. It should come as no big surprise that the drug has been a huge moneymaker for Pfizer. But it has also been reported that the use of cholesterol lowering statin drugs, like Lipitor, may be associated with an increased risk of diabetes in middle-aged and older women. In a new study, researchers analyzed data on nearly 154,000 women followed for an average of seven years.

Women who reported taking a statin such as Lipitor, Pravachol, Zocor or other statin drugs, were almost 50 percent more likely to report developing Type 2 diabetes than women who did not take statins, according to study researcher Yunsheng Ma, MD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The study included 153,840 postmenopausal women with an average age at enrollment of 63. Most were followed for about seven years. None of the women had diabetes when they were included in the study, but 10,242 cases of self-reported diabetes were found by the end of follow-up.

After taking into account older age, obesity, lack of physical activity and other risk factors for diabetes, statin use was associated with an almost 50 percent chance of developing the disease. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes, the very disease state these drugs are to prevent.

But the study is not the first to suggest that statins may raise the risk for diabetes. An analysis of 13 studies, published in February of 2010, found that statin users had a 9 percent increased risk for diabetes. Another study, published last June, suggested a similar increase in risk among patients taking high doses of statins. If the drugs do increase diabetes risk, the study by Dr. Ma and colleagues suggests that the risk is an effect shared by all statins. A spokesman for Lipitor manufacturer Pfizer Inc. says the drug has been shown in multiple studies to reduce heart attack and stroke risk in high-risk patients, including those with Type 2 diabetes. Pfizer media representative MacKay Jimeson said:

We believe the risk of diabetes is outweighed by the [healthy heart] benefits of Lipitor therapy and we encourage patients to work with their physicians to discuss their treatment options.

Lawyers in our Mass Torts Section are investigating claims involving Lipitor and diabetes for peri- and post-menopausal women. Currently, about 18 lawsuits are pending involving these claims and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) will soon be hearing petitions for the establishment of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). If you have a case for investigation, or need more information on the subject, contact Frank Woodson, a lawyer in our Mass Torts Section at 1-800-898-2034 or by email

Source: Web MD

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