Pfizer’s drug, Lipitor is well known for its cholesterol-lowering prowess. However, it’s quickly becoming known for a less pleasant reason – it may also cause type 2 diabetes and memory loss.
That’s what several women filing lawsuits against Pfizer are claiming, anyway. They say that the company knew about these harmful side effects, but failed to properly warn the public while encouraging them to buy Lipitor.
Two years ago, the FDA warned that Lipitor and other statins had been linked to memory loss and an increased risk of diabetes, though the risk was small. It was at that time that the first uptick in lawsuits against Pfizer was seen, primarily from women. Allegedly, women are more likely to develop diabetes after Lipitor use, and reap fewer benefits from taking the medication.
In the last five months alone, the number of lawsuits by women claiming Lipitor caused them to develop type 2 diabetes rocketed from 56 to almost 1000 cases.
Many are suggesting the recent jump in numbers in lawsuits against Pfizer is due to the decision to consolidate all lawsuits involving claims that Lipitor causes diabetes into one Federal courtroom. Those that opposed the decision warned it could cause “copycat” filings against the company.
Another contributing factor to the large number of suits brought against Pfizer and Lipitor is that Lipitor is the best-selling prescription drug ever. More than 29 million people in the United States have been prescribed Lipitor to help lower their cholesterol.
When the FDA issued their statement about the potential risks of statins, they emphasized that the slight risks did not outweigh the benefits those with high cholesterol can gain by taking statins. Because the FDA backs Lipitor, plaintiffs may have a harder time winning their cases against Pfizer.
In response to the lawsuits, Pfizer has released a statement saying it denies liability, and will be fighting the ever-growing number of lawsuits.
The first trial to hear a Lipitor lawsuit is scheduled for next July and will be used as a barometer of sorts to determine how the rest of the cases may go. If Pfizer wins the first case, it may cause some women to accept smaller settlements or drop their cases altogether.