Why Are There Cholesterol Drug Lawsuits?
In recent years, Statins, a type of cholesterol drugs, and other medications have been reported to produce adverse side effects in patients. Statins and other cholesterol medications are considered defective product liability claim. This alleges that cholesterol drugs named in lawsuits are defective. Defective product liability claims ensure that the defendants are held liable regardless of their knowledge or intent.
Why Have Plaintiffs Filed Cholesterol Drug Lawsuits?
There have been multiple adverse side effects that patients have experienced after taking Statins and other cholesterol medications. Plaintiffs have filed cholesterol drug lawsuits for claims including development of diabetes, liver damage, cancer, hepatitis, and acute pancreatitis.
In all of the cases, plaintiffs allege the drug companies were aware of the risk, but withheld information from the medical community and consumers to protect sales.
Which Cholesterol Medications Are Associated With Lawsuits?
The different cholesterol medications associated with lawsuits are:
- Crestor (rosuvastatin)
- Lipitor (atorvastatin)
- Zetia/ezetimibe (a cholesterol absorption reducing medication)
- Vytorin (simvastatin/ezetimibe combination medication)
- Tricor/fenofibrate (a fibrate anti-cholesterol medication)
- Lovaza/omega-3-acid ethyl esters (antilipemic medication)
What Cholesterol Drug Lawsuit Settlements Have There Been?
Merck & Co. and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals have paid $688 million to resolve two class-action lawsuits over the drug Vytorin and will pay $573 million in settlements for the Zetia Antitrust Case. AstraZeneca has agreed to pay $110 million to the state of Texas to settle lawsuits relating to Seroquel (an anti-psychotic) and Crestor.
Abbott Laboratories has paid $184 million in settlements for lawsuits associated with their Fenofibrate (TriCor). There have been recorded settlements for Lovaza’s harmful side effects.
The Lipitor settlement is still pending.
What Cholesterol Drug Lawsuits Are There?
As of 2023, there are no new or active cholesterol drug lawsuits.
What Are Cholesterol Drugs?
There are a number of different Cholesterol drugs.
The different types of medications are:
- Bile acid sequestrants
- Niacin or nicotinic acid
- Antilipemic agents
Each type of medicine works in its own way, but all are used to lower cholesterol levels.
How Do Statins Work?
Statins work by reducing the amount of cholesterol made by the liver and helping the liver remove cholesterol that is already in the blood. Statins could also reduce inflammation in the artery walls. This can prevent blockages that run the risk of damaging organs such as the heart and brain.
Who Created Statin Cholesterol Drugs?
Biochemist, Akira Endo, was the first person to isolate the first statin at Sankyo, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, in the 1970s.
Today, there are several manufacturers of different statin drugs including Pfizer, Merck and Glenmark, Merck & Co., Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, and AstraZeneca.
What Are Cholesterol Drugs Prescribed to Treat?
Cholesterol medications are typically used to lower cholesterol levels in a patient. These drugs can be used to reduce a patient’s chances of having a heart attack or stroke, prevent the patient from needing surgery, angioplasty, or stenting to improve blood flow, and allows the patient to avoid dying from a heart attack.
The higher the risk of heart attacks or strokes in the patient, the stronger the benefit of the medication. Additionally, The benefits of the anti-cholesterol drug increases the longer it is taken.
What Are the Side Effects of Cholesterol Drugs?
While each medication has its own unique side effects, there are some effects that cholesterol medications may have in common.
What Are the Common Side Effects of Statins?
Side effects can vary between statins, but common side effects may include:
- Feeling unusually tired or physically weak
- Digestive system problems (constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, gas)
- Muscle pain
- Sleep problems
- Low blood platelet count
What Are the Uncommon Side Effects of Statins?
Uncommon side effects of statins may include:
- Memory problems
- Hair loss
- Skin problems (acne, red rash)
- Sexual problems (loss of libido, erectile dysfunction)
What Are the Adverse Side Effects of Statins?
The cholesterol medications, mainly statins, that have faced lawsuits have recorded adverse side effects such as:
- Rhabdomyolysis (severe muscle cramps, vomiting, dark-colored urine)
- Easy bruising/bleeding
- Gallbladder problems (severe stomach pain, nausea vomiting, fever)
- Blood clots
What Are the FDA’s Warnings About Cholesterol Drugs?
The FDA issued safety communications for cholesterol-lowering statins in 2012 to keep patients informed about the safe and effective use of statins. In this, the FDA added diabetes and memory loss warnings to statins.
The FDA also issued a safety communication specifically for the interaction between HIV or Hepatitis C drugs with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. The interactions between these drugs can increase the risk of muscle injury.
In 2021, the FDA advised that pregnant patients should stop taking statins but stopped short of serious warnings.
In September 2017, the FDA warned that fenofibrate, a non-statin medication, may cause serious skin reactions.
Are Cholesterol Drugs Still on the Market?
Cholesterol drugs are still on the market with these different warnings being issued to patients. It is up to the patients and the doctors to discuss which cholesterol medication is necessary and if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA.