Study Shows Doctors May Be Overprescribing Statins Like Crestor
If your doctor has given you a prescription for a cholesterol-lowering statin, you may want to think twice before taking it. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, doctors often prescribe these medications even to patients that have a low risk of heart disease—despite the fact that these drugs come with serious potential side effects.
In fact, many patients who were prescribed the strongest statin on the market, Crestor, and then suffered from Crestor side effects, later filed lawsuits to recover damages. These Crestor lawsuits bring claims of injuries like severe muscle damage, heart problems, diabetes, and rhabdomyolysis (muscle wasting).
Study shows doctors may be overprescribing statin drugs
According to the new JAMA Internal Medicine study, which surveyed 750 doctors nationwide (only a third responded), about 70 percent of doctors would recommend cholesterol-lowering statins to patients who had a very low chance of developing heart disease in the next decade.
The researchers sent the doctors six clinical vignettes describing hypothetical patients from the age of 40-75 that had varied LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. These imaginary patients also had different statistics as to their blood pressure levels and whether or not they smoked. None of them had diagnosed heart disease.
Still, about three-quarters of the physicians, which included family practice doctors, cardiologists, and internists, said they would prescribe a statin to the patients with a very low risk of heart disease. These hypothetical patients included a 40-year-old man with high cholesterol and well-controlled high blood pressure.
Why doctors may be ignoring Crestor side effects
When theorizing as to why doctors may be ignoring potential Crestor side effects when prescribing statins even to those with a low risk of heart disease, researchers suggested the physicians might be too focused on one number—the level of LDL “bad” cholesterol.
“It seems like people could be treating more of a number than a patient’s risk,” Dr. Michael Johansen, lead author of the study, told Reuters.
Researchers also theorized that doctors might be ignoring the very real possibility that patients could suffer from serious statin side effects, like those claimed in Crestor lawsuits. Many doctors, instead, think only of the benefits statins are reputed to produce, such as lower cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart attack.
Yet studies show that Crestor side effects—and side effects from other statins—are very real, and can be quite dangerous. A recent study from the University of Columbia, for instance, found that taking statins at “high-potency” dosages raises the adjusted risk of kidney injury by 34 percent over the first four months of treatment, compared with taking lower-dose statins.
Crestor lawsuits bring side effects to light
In February 2010, the FDA approved Crestor as a preventative medication in patients who have not been diagnosed with heart disease, but who had an elevated level of C-reactive protein in their blood and at least one additional risk, such as smoking or high blood pressure. Yet only five years before, they warned that Crestor, like all statins, could cause serious muscle damage, including myopathy and rhabdomyolysis. They added that various forms of kidney failure had been reported in patients taking Crestor.
Meanwhile, the JUPITER trial indicated that patients taking Crestor were at a higher risk for diabetes, and a later British study also showed that statin therapy is associated with an increased risk of diabetes.
A Crestor lawyer for plaintiffs injured while taking the medication is likely to claim that manufacturer AstraZeneca has over-promoted Crestor for use even in patients without heart disease, while failing to adequately warn about the serious risk of Crestor side effects. Patients who have been injured by Crestor and other statins may be able to recover damages in Crestor lawsuits.
- JAMA Internal Medicine, http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1666428
- Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/11/us-statins-prescription-idUSBRE92A0ZO20130311
- Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm200128.htm
- Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/