As Lipitor Diabetes Lawsuits Mount, Study Finds That Aggressive Marketing May Promote Unnecessary Statin Use

Published on September 17, 2013 by Sandy Liebhard

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Just as Lipitor lawsuit claims are beginning to make their way through the U.S. court system, a new study is raising disturbing questions about heavy-handed marketing tactics and unnecessary statin use. According to the research, which appeared last month in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, many patients who begin using statins like Lipitor may do so after viewing commercials that promote the drugs.

The new study looked at data on more than 106,000 American adults who may have been exposed to direct-to-consumer ads for statins that ran on TV from 2001 through 2007. They also obtained information on whether those consumers suffered from high cholesterol, their statin use over the previous year, and their risk factors for coronary heart disease. Patients who did view statin ads were 16-20% percent more likely to have a diagnosis of  high cholesterol and 16-22% more likely to be statin users. Most interestingly, the research suggested that the likelihood of both a diagnosis of high cholesterol and increased statin use was driven by TV ads. Oddly enough, those most at risk for heart disease were not more likely to be taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs  after viewing the ads.

“Our findings raise questions about the extent to which direct-to-consumer advertising may promote over-diagnosis and over-treatment for populations where risks may outweigh potential benefits,” the authors of the study wrote. “In addition, we found no evidence of favorable associations between exposure to statins in television advertisements and statin use among those at high risk for future cardiac events.”

Unnecessary Statin Use Could Increase Risk for Lipitor Diabetes, Other Side Effects

It stands to reason that low-risk patients who use the drug may be needlessly increasing their risk for Lipitor diabetes and other serious side effects, including muscle injuries and kidney and liver damage. Pfizer, Inc., the manufacturer of Lipitor, is currently facing a growing number of lawsuits filed on behalf of patients who allegedly developed Lipitor diabetes. The litigation began to pick up steam in 2012, after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ordered Pfizer Inc. to add new warnings to its label regarding a possible association with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Recently, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) refused to create a multidistrict litigation for federally-filed Lipitor lawsuits that involve diabetes allegations. However, claims continue to be filed in courts around the country, and a federal judge presiding over several Lipitor diabetes claims in the U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina, is apparently handling those claims in a coordinated manner. According to court documents, Pfizer has said it is willing to participate in this informal coordination.

The nationwide law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP is investigating Lipitor diabetes lawsuits, and is now offering free legal evaluations to anyone who may have been injured by this statin. To learn more about filing a Lipitor lawsuit, please call to arrange for your review.