Center for Medical Consumers

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Report Side-Effects of Statin Drugs

Posted by medconsumers on November 1, 2006

This is an excellent Web site for anyone who is currently on a statin drug or who has stopped taking one because of a serious adverse reaction. Although cholesterol-lowering statin drugs first went on the market 20 years ago, there are major information gaps concerning their adverse effects.

Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, who heads the UCSD Statin Study at the University of California at San Diego, has been working for years to change things by collecting information directly from the public. She has recently launched a new online survey (www.statineffects.com) “for people who have had adverse responses to statins or to other cholesterol-lowering drugs, and also [for] people who have done well on these drugs.” Statins are a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs that includes atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), pravastatin (Pravachol) fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), and rosuvastatin (Crestor).

The very existence of this study is tacit acknowledgment of deficiencies both in the FDA drug approval process and in its post-market surveillance system. Drug trials are designed to prove a benefit and typically do not provide a full picture of harm. Add to the mix the fact that most statin drugs are taken by older people. Many report to Dr. Golomb that their doctors attribute such problems as joint pain and memory deficits to aging and do not consider the possibility of statin side effects.

The site is more than a survey opportunity. It has information on known adverse effects divided into two sections: “Side Effects Your Doctor Will be Familiar With (muscle symptoms and changes in liver function, as noted in a blood test)” and “Lesser Known Side Effects” (e.g., peripheral neuropathy, memory loss, thinking and concentration problems), as well as a description of symptoms that should be reported immediately to your doctor.

Maryann Napoli, Center for Medical Consumers ©

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