Cholesterol Drugs Get New Safety Warnings on Blood Sugar, Memory Problems

Over the past few years, anecdotal information has surfaced regarding certain issues stemming from the use of cholesterol drugs, or statins.

Patients prescribed the medications were reporting fatigue, aches and pains, memory and cognitive issues and some blood sugar problems, and a study last year confirmed that the side effects reported were indeed linked to the statins class of medication. (Popular drugs Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor are included in the group of affected medications.) The Food Drug Administration has noted the findings, attaching a warning to the medications that indicates users should be aware of potential side effects when considering statin treatment options.

However, the FDA also indicated that people should not be scared off cholesterol drugs when considering the warnings. Dr. Amy G. Egan, deputy director for safety in FDA’s Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products, commented on the cholesterol drug updates:

“The value of statins in preventing heart disease has been clearly established. [Cholesterol drugs’] benefit is indisputable, but they need to be taken with care and knowledge of their side effects.”

All things considered, some doctors say, cholesterol drugs are considered very safe for users. In fact, Dr. Jack Lewin, CEO of the American College of Cardiology tells NPR that even despite the new statin warnings, cholesterol drugs carry few side effects when contrasted with their benefits:

“I think it’s all pretty responsible. What’s really amazing about statins is the relatively low incidence of side effects,” he says.

While the warnings about blood sugar were added to the label for cholesterol drugs, older warnings about potential liver damage were removed because the side effect is so rare.