Lipitor4From the Pfizer/WebMD point of view, liver and muscle problems are the only major Lipitor side effects. But is that point of view correct? Where’s the evidence?

It does not take a “deep dive” into the peer-reviewed scientific literature to unearth a trove of disturbing reports and studies, many of which suggest that Lipitor’s side effects may have been vastly under-reported. Here are some salient analyses that make that case:

“Statins and Risk of Incident Diabetes: A Collaborative Meta Analysis of Randomized Statin Trials” from The Lancet, Volume 375, Issue 9716, February 2010. The authors conducted a “meta analysis” (a “study of studies”) to determine whether patients given statins were at increased risk for developing diabetes mellitus (Type 2 diabetes). They concluded: “statin therapy is associated with a slight increased risk of development of diabetes.”

“Statin Use and Risk of Diabetes Mellitus in Postmenopausal Women in the Women’s Health Initiatives” An article from the Journal of the American Medical Association (Arch Intern Med) published on January 23, 2002, Volume 172, No. 2 analyzed whether statin use was associated with the new onset of Type 2 diabetes for women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The authors concluded “statin medication use in post-menopausal woman is associated with an increased risk for DM. This may be a medication class effect.”

The authors of the JAMA article also cite another study, a randomized controlled trial by Mills et al., who conducted a meta analysis of 17 randomized control trials and also “found a class effect increase of new onset DM with statins.” (The Mills et al article was “Efficacy and safety of statin treatment for cardiovascular disease: a network meta analysis of 170,255 patients from 76 randomized trials.”)

A 2010 study published in JACC found that patients who took 80 milligrams of Lipitor saw a seriously elevated risk for developing Type 2 diabetes – 37% higher risk, as compared with a control group.

Another study, “Differential Metabolic Effect of Distinct Statins,” published on September 10, 2010 in the journal Atherosclerosis found that patients who took Lipitor on a daily basis had a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, when they did not have a preexisting condition before beginning the course of medication.

The authors found the following: “clinical studies, including large scale randomized controlled trials, demonstrate the potential differences between individual statins … statins including atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, and simvastatin all promote significant increase in this risk. Given the frequent concordance of metabolic diseases including diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome with cardiovascular diseases associated with hyperlipidemia, it is important to understand the potential metabolic risks and benefits of therapies with distinct statins.”

The authors found that three statins in particular — including Lipitor — significantly increased the risk of new onset diabetes (or worsening of established Type 2 diabetes).

It is funny that the Pfizer-sponsored article in WebMD about the side effects of Lipitor failed entirely to mention Type II diabetes as a possible side effect.

Did you develop diabetes while on Lipitor? Call the Davis & Crump team for a free consultation now at 800-277-0300.