Lipitor (atorvastatin) is a popular cholesterol-lowering medication that has been linked to an increased risk of type-2 diabetes, especially in post-menopausal women and individuals who have other diabetes risk-factors. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a warning about the link between Lipitor and diabetes. Now, a growing number of people are filing Lipitor lawsuits alleging that Pfizer failed to adequately warn about the potential risk before it caused their injury.
Lipitor Raises Risk of Type-2 Diabetes
Lipitor (atorvastatin) belongs to a class of drugs called statins, which are popular for lowering cholesterol, triglycerides, and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL or “bad cholesterol”). Free-floating cholesterol in the bloodstream can form plaques in major arteries, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. Lipitor has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems in patients with pre-existing cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately, Lipitor has also been shown to increase blood sugar levels and the risk of type-2 diabetes. Studies have confirmed that the risk is higher for post-menopausal women and people with multiple risk factors for type-2 diabetes.
Risk factors for type-2 diabetes include:
- Post-menopausal women
- Problems controlling blood sugar
- High blood pressure
- Lack of physical activity
- High triglycerides in the blood
- Excess weight
- Family history of type-2 diabetes
- And more
50% Higher Risk of Type-2 Diabetes for Older Women on Lipitor
According to a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in January 2012, post-menopausal women who took Lipitor or other statins were 50% more likely to develop type-2 diabetes.
The conclusions of the study were based on data from more than 153,000 women whose average age was 63 — approximately 10% of women who took statins developed diabetes, compared to 6.4% of women who did not.
Studies Find Lipitor Patients Develop Diabetes
Numerous studies have linked statins to type-2 diabetes, and several have specifically linked Lipitor to type-2 diabetes. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology reviewed three large clinical trials of Lipitor and type-2 diabetes, and all found higher risks of type-2 diabetes:
- SPARCL Trial: More than 6,000 patients were given either 80-mg Lipitor or a placebo. Type-2 diabetes occurred in 8.71% of the Lipitor group and 6.06% of the placebo group.
- TNT Trial: Patients were given either 80-mg Lipitor or 10-mg Lipitor. Type-2 diabetes occurred in 9.24% of the high-dose Lipitor group, and 8.11% of the low-dose Lipitor group.
- IDEAL Trial: Patients were given either 80-mg Lipitor or 20-mg simvastatin. Diabetes occurred in 6.4% of the Lipitor group and 5.59% of the simvastatin group.
FDA Safety Warning for Lipitor Type-2 Diabetes Risk
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published this Safety Communication in July 2012 to warn about a possible link between Lipitor and type-2 diabetes. They also summarized the results of several studies linking all statins to diabetes, including the study that found particularly high risks for post-menopausal women.
The FDA warned:
“Based on clinical trial meta-analyses and epidemiological data from the published literature, information concerning an effect of statins on incident diabetes and increases in HbA1c and/or fasting plasma glucose was added to statin labels.”
Symptoms of Type-2 Diabetes
People who develop type-2 diabetes suffer from a chronic metabolic condition that can grow progressively worse. It occurs when cells become resistant to insulin, a hormone that tells cells to absorb blood-sugar. The cells become desensitized to insulin and fail to absorb enough sugar, causing chronic problems controlling blood-sugar levels.
Type-2 diabetes symptoms can include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger (especially after eating)
- Dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Feeling tired or weak
- Blurry vision
- And more