Lipitor Diabetes Lawsuits Update

Did you develop diabetes while taking medicine for your high cholesterol?

Lipitor is a drug manufactured for lowering a patient’s cholesterol. Created in 1985, it is the world’s best-selling drug, making $125 billion in just fifteen years on the market. Pfizer, the company that makes and markets the drug, says more than 17 million people have been prescribed Lipitor.

The drug works by blocking an enzyme that is produced in the liver. Without this enzyme, the human body produces less cholesterol. This in turn forces the liver to take more cholesterol from the blood, which lowers the cholesterol in general and helps prevent heart disease and heart attacks.

Most people who are prescribed Lipitor are completely healthy people with no other problems besides high cholesterol. Lipitor will often be taken for the rest of the patient’s lives, which is a very profitable notion for Pfizer (which is world’s largest pharmaceutical company).

Harmful Side Effects in Women

Though it was once proclaimed that “Statins are so safe they should be put in drinking water,” Recent studies have emerged questioning the true benefit of the use of Lipitor and other Statins (others in Lipitor’s drug family) to treat heart disease. Often it is found that the risk of developing diabetes offsets the heart attacks saved by using the Statin.

Women are the hardest hit by the negative effects of Statins. Dr. Beatrice Golomb from the University of California has been studying the effect of drugs like Lipitor on women. In comparison to clinical trials, which estimated negative effects from 1% to 7% of all users, Dr. Golomb’s tests found the actual number to be closer to 15%.

Doctors have warned about the overdosing of Statins for women, noting that there is no conclusive evidence that it even helps women who do not already have heart disease. Current estimates are that over 75% of the women who take Lipitor do not already have heart problems.

Lipitor Lawsuit Update

Since 2006, lawsuits have been filed against Lipitor for causing muscle, nerve, and memory problems. But more recently, plaintiffs have been filing complaints alleging the company’s failure to warn of the risks of developing diabetes in women. In 2012 the FDA forced Pfizer to change Lipitor’s label to note the risk of elevated fasting glucose levels — but to this day there is still not an adequate disclaimer to protect the female patients.

Usually, in cases involving pharmaceuticals, instead of having hundreds of different discoveries and motion hearings, a multidistrict legislation (MDL) is created. This saves both sides of the lawsuit a lot of trouble and it also expedites the case, making the whole judicial process easier on the witnesses, experts, and victims.

Update #1: In April, 2013 a number of plaintiffs approached the Judicial Panel of Multidistrict Litigation with the intention of creating a MDL. Lipitor’s lawyers opposed this motion saying that there were not enough cases to warrant the MDL, and that most of the plaintiff’s lawyers are from the same firms and have already begun to work cooperatively. The court will decide whether or not to grant the plaintiff’s MDL motion on a hearing scheduled on July 25, 2013.

Update #2: the MDL was denied... for now. Most cases are being filed and plaintiffss will certainly refile.

Update #3, February, 2014: We now have an MDL. All cases filed in federal court are now being consolidated in California.

Update #4, June, 2014. The FDA, continuing to lead from behind, has rejected calls from many, including Public Citizen, for a black box warning for Lipitor and other cholesterol drugs for the risk of kidney damages.

Update #5, August, 15, 2014. Hearing in federal court with Lipitor class action lawyers for a status conference on cases that will go to trial first.

There are currently about 1,000 product liability lawsuits filed against Pfizer in the federal court system, which all involve similar claims that side effects of Lipitor caused women to develop diabetes, alleging that Pfizer failed to adequately warn consumers or the medical community about the risks associated with their blockbuster cholesterol drug.

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