One of the most debilitating side effects associated with Lipitor (atorvastatin) is memory loss. Unfortunately, because the FDA did not warn about the risk of memory loss until February 2012, many people continued to take Lipitor while continuing to suffer from memory loss, amnesia, confusion, mental “fuzziness” and other serious problems.
Lipitor and Memory Loss
Lipitor (atorvastatin) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997 to treat high cholesterol and reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks. It prevents the liver from producing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.
At first, it might not make sense how Lipitor could be associated with mental problems. However, more than 25% of the body’s cholesterol is located in the brain. Cholesterol is a building-block of cells — it forms the insulation around neurons in the brain, which speeds up and protects electrical synapses. Without cholesterol, normal cognitive functions like memory, data-processing, learning, and quick-thinking skills would be impossible.
Researchers have been warning about this risk of Lipitor and memory loss for more than a decade. One of the earlier studies was published in 2003 in Pharmacotherapy. Researchers reviewed 60 case reports involving Lipitor and memory loss. In addition to short-term memory loss, they also found reports of partial and complete amnesia.
FDA Safety Warning for Lipitor and Memory Loss
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned about the potential risk of Lipitor memory loss in February 2012, when they published a Drug Safety Communication and forced drug-makers to update the Prescribing Information. Reports linked Lipitor to the following types of cognitive dysfunction:
- Memory loss
- Memory impairment
- Mental “fuzziness”
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Loss of focus
- Amnesia (partial and complete)
Most of the reports involved memory loss that was “not serious” and resolved within a few weeks after the patient stopped taking Lipitor. Some patients reported symptoms in as little as one day on Lipitor; others reported memory loss after a few years on Lipitor.
Lipitor Memory Loss Lawsuits
Pfizer is now facing Lipitor memory loss lawsuits from individuals who allege that the company did not do enough to warn about the potential side effect. Concern about this side effect has been growing for more than a decade. However, Pfizer did not explicitly warn about memory loss until the FDA required label updates in February 2012 — just three months after the patent on Lipitor expired. Unfortunately, some Lipitor patients suffered with mental dysfunction for a long time because they were not aware about the risk of memory loss.