Zocor is manufactured by Merck & Company, Inc. and is by patients that have cholesterol concerns. It is categorized as a statin, which works to simultaneously increase good HDL cholesterol levels while lowering bad LDL cholesterol levels. Zocor is commonly used by patients that have coronary heart disease or diabetes. The cholesterol prescription can also be used by patients with an elevated risk of developing these diseases. Merck advertises Zocor as a helpful drug that can minimize the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other heart-related conditions.
These cholesterol management drugs, or statins, were first introduced to the United States and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987. In particular, Zocor was approved by the FDA in 1991. Zocor works by inhibiting the production of cholesterol within the body. By 1995, Zocor was prescribed to over 3.1 million patients worldwide. Other common statins on the U.S. market include Crestor and Lipitor.
FDA Warnings and Safety Updates
To date, the FDA has released several warnings and updates regarding Zocor’s safety. While Merck has yet to recall Zocor, the FDA identified serious side effects and required Merck to change Zocor’s safety labels. The most common prescription of Zocor calls for 40 milligrams per day. Patients taking the maximum legal dosage of 80 milligrams per day are more likely to experience adverse reactions to the drug.
The first FDA Zocor warning was released in March 2010 and warned against patients taking the maximum dosage of 80 milligrams per day. The FDA further specified that taking Zocor while taking other blood pressure medications will increase the chances of dangerous health risks. In June 2011, the FDA warned doctors never to prescribe the maximum Zocor dosage to new patients. The FDA stated that only patients who had taken 80 milligrams of Zocor per day, for at least one year without negative side effects, may continue to take the maximum dosage. Merck was also required to change Zocor’s label. The safety label change added newly identified side effects and made the dosage quickly identifiable.
Zocor Health Risks
Severe and dangerous Zocor side effects include:
- Allergic reactions
- Chest pain
- Atrial fibrillation
- Muscle injury, or myopathy
- Rhabdomyolysis, or degradation and release of muscle fibers into the patient’s bloodstream
- Liver damage
- Kidney failure
Patients that have endured muscular problems or kidney failure are filing claims against Zocor. Plaintiffs of Zocor lawsuits can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, diminished quality of life, punitive damages, and wrongful death. Many Zocor lawsuits claim that Merck was aware of the severity and frequency of Zocor side effects, but failed to adequately warn consumers of these health risks.
Zocor Class Action Litigation
In a case filed in Missouri during 2004, a man by the named Tommy Foster alleged that Zocor could cause serious cardiac risks. Foster filed a Zocor class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. His complaint stated the use of Zocor blocked enzymes that aided in the body’s production of energy. This resulted in new heart health concerns for the patient. Foster accused Merck of failure to warn patients of the cardiac risks involved with taking Zocor. Within his nationwide class action lawsuit, Foster identified separate personal injury, medical monitoring, and refund subclasses.
In other cases, such as Charles Thurston’s case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Merck has successfully obtained dismissal of Zocor lawsuits. In the Texas-based lawsuit, the court stated that the warning labels on Zocor prescriptions were FDA-approved. By default, this showed no evidence of negligence on Merck’s behalf. Furthermore, the court stated that Thurston failed to provide medical records of muscular illness in a timely manner.
Rhabdomyolysis from Zocor
One of the most dangerous health risks while taking Zocor involves muscular injury. Rhabdomyolysis is a muscular disease that occurs in approximately 5 of every 100,000 Zocor patients. It causes the breakdown and release of muscle fibers. The muscle fibers expel a protein called myoglobin into the patient’s bloodstream. The patient’s kidneys attempt to filter the myoglobin protein out of the bloodstream. As a result, the patient’s life is threatened as the kidneys eventually fail.
Zocor Legal Evaluation
Patients coping with adverse reactions from the use of Zocor should consult an experienced attorney, who may ask the following questions during a free legal evaluation:
- What was the prescribed dose of Zocor?
- How long was the Zocor prescription taken?
- When did the Zocor side effects begin? When did they become most severe?
- When did the physician recognize that the new health problems were caused by Zocor? How did the physician come to this conclusion?