Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new labeling guidelines for statin drugs, warning users that the medications may cause memory loss, risk of elevated blood sugar levels, and Type 2 diabetes, in addition to muscle damage and liver disease.
The FDA announced changes to the safety information on the labels of statins, including Pfizer’s Lipitor, AstraZeneca’s Crestor, and Merck & Co.’s Zocor. “The reports about memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion span all statin products and all age groups,” writes the FDA on its website. Regarding risk of diabetes, the FDA stated that, “raised blood sugar levels and the development of Type 2 diabetes have been reported with the use of statins.”
Not to upset the Big Pharmas, the FDA reminded us that statins have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and heart disease, and said that this new information should not scare people into stopping taking the drugs. In addition, the FDA adds that the symptoms go away once the drug is stopped.
Lipitor is the world’s biggest selling prescription medication, with estimated sales over $130 billion. A generic form (atorvastatin) was made available late last year. The generic version of Zocor (simvastatin) was the second most widely prescribed medication in the U.S., according to IMS Health. Last year, more than 20 million Americans were taking some form of statin, according to IMS Health.
The FDA specifically mentioned that Merck’s Mevacor, which was the world’s first approved statin, (known generically as lovastatin) should never be taken with certain drugs used to treat HIV and certain bacterial and fungal infections, due to an increased risk of a serious muscle disease.
Meanwhile, the FDA removed a requirement for routine periodic monitoring of liver enzymes, originally intended to alert physicians if the medications were becoming toxic, causing damage to the liver. The FDA stated that such serious damage is rare and regular monitoring does not appear to be effective in detecting liver injury.
Recently, we have reported about the adverse side effects of many different drugs that are prescribed today. Almost every drug comes with side effects and problems, but sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks. It really doesn’t matter much if you experience slight memory loss if your heart stops ticking.
To some people, a little sugar in their blood is worth the peace of mind they have in preventing heart disease. The purpose of the FDA is to keep the public safe and to report health warnings as soon as they are discovered, not to protect the Big Pharmas who only care about their profits.