More women are filing lawsuit claims against the gigantic pharmaceutical company Pfizer for not providing proper warning about the side effects of their cholesterol drug, Lipitor. A class action lawsuit of more than 1,000 cases, representing over 4,000 women has been filed against the drug manufacturer.
Allegedly, the cholesterol drug medication causes patients to develop type 2 diabetes.
For several months, American women have been filing lawsuits in federal court against Pfizer. The women claim Pfizer’s cholesterol drug, Lipitor caused them to get type 2 diabetes. They also claim Pfizer knew about the dangers of the cholesterol medication and did not provide a warning to the public.
In February 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered manufacturers of Lipitor and other statins to make some important safety label changes to cholesterol lowering statin drugs regarding the medication’s potential risks and dangers.
The FDA also presented a warning linking statins, including cholesterol drugs like Lipitor, to incidents of small increased risks of diabetes and memory loss. Statins are a group of prescription drugs primarily used in conjunction with exercise and diet to reduce blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also referred to as bad cholesterol.
However, like nearly all medication, a cholesterol drug is capable of causing some potentially dangerous side effects, such as increased blood sugar, muscle problems, neurological side effects, type 2 diabetes, or liver damage.
Lipitor went on the market in 1996. Lipitor sales are close to $130 billion, worldwide. More than 29 million patients in the U.S. have prescriptions for this cholesterol lowering medication.
However, in January 2012, the conclusions reported in a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine had this to say about the cholesterol lowering medication.
“This study investigates whether the incidence of new-onset diabetes mellitus (DM) is associated with statin use among postmenopausal women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). Statin medication use in postmenopausal women is associated with an increased risk for DM. This may be a medication class effect. Further study by statin type and dose may reveal varying risk levels for new-onset DM in this population.”
Pfizer stated they plan to fight the lawsuits, and they deny any liabilities that claim their cholesterol drug is dangerous.
According to WebMD, Pfizer’s spokesperson, Bryant Haskins, says Lipitor is among the world’s safest drug, and it rarely causes any side effects. In addition, Haskins asserts that Pfizer makes it very clear to patients and doctors the potential side effects of the cholesterol drug.
Haskins adds the following statement.
“This is an extremely safe drug. It is the most studied drug in the world. It has been studied in over 400 clinical trials with 80,000 patients. More than 20 million patients have taken the drug since it entered the market about a decade ago. Any potential side effects, any significant adverse events are on the drug’s label, in our advertisements, and on our web site. To say we have hidden information on this drug is absolutely false.”
An issue of vital concern for both parties is the ability to prove in court whether the benefits of the cholesterol medication outscore the risks. The fundamental questions are whether there is a potentially greater risk in women getting diabetes from taking the cholesterol drug, Lipitor, or are the benefits of the medication capable of improving cardiovascular difficulties.
According to Pfizer, their company and their cholesterol drug, Lipitor, are not responsible for causing women to get diabetes. They point out that perhaps women who take the medication have lifestyles that may cause other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, or obesity, which makes them more susceptible of developing diabetes.
On the other hand, the plaintiffs in the tort lawsuit maintain Pfizer was negligent in providing sufficient notice of the increased side effect of women developing diabetes from taking the cholesterol drug. Pfizer does not intend to settle this case out of court.
In the first place, some people suggest it will be hard for the women plaintiffs to provide evidence they were harmed by taking Lipitor. An overwhelming consensus in the medical community suggests that statins, or cholesterol meditation, are very efficient in improving the quality of life for millions of people. Taking into consideration their lifestyle and habits, women will have to prove they were harmed by taking this drug,
Nevertheless, Reuters reports that the plaintiffs’ appointed lawyer, H. Blair Hahn, from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, suggests that women gain fewer benefits and are more likely to have an increased risk of developing diabetes from the cholesterol drug, Lipitor than men. Hahn claims that women who developed diabetes because of taking Pfizer’s cholesterol drug face a reduction in the quality and length of life.
Hahn had this to say to Reuters.
“We will ask a jury to decide what it’s worth to take five years of someone’s life.”
Next July, the Lipitor cholesterol drug’s first trial is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel. Pfizer may decide to settle out of court in order to avoid the possibility of information that might damage their reputation and elude negative exposure.
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