August 14, 2014 — In the last five months, the number of lawsuits involving Lipitor (atorvastatin) and type-2 diabetes has surged from 56 to nearly 1,000, according to a review of federal court filings by Reuters.
In February, a panel of federal judges centralized Lipitor lawsuits in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in federal court in South Carolina under District Judge Richard M. Gergel. The first “bellwether” trials are set for July 2015.
The MDL now contains nearly 1,000 cases representing 4,000 women or more. Some attorneys estimate that 10,000 or more cases could ultimately be filed. In 2011, AstraZeneca paid $647 million to resolve 28,000 lawsuits alleging that Seroquel, an anti-psychotic drug, caused diabetes and other side effects.
Lipitor is unique because it is the best-selling drug of all time, raking in more than $130 billion for Pfizer since it hit the market in 1996. More than 29 million Americans have taken the drug, suggesting that the pool of plaintiffs could continue to grow in the next few years.
The first Lipitor lawsuits were filed in 2012, shortly after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that cholesterol-lowering statins, including Lipitor, were linked to memory loss an a “small increased risk” of type-2 diabetes.
Since then, studies have shown that post-menopausal women are 50% more likely to develop diabetes — 10% of statin users developed diabetes, versus 6.4% of women who did not use them.
Although the FDA concluded that the benefits of statins outweigh the risk of diabetes, women who are diagnosed with diabetes face a lifetime of medical treatment. According to the American Diabetes Association, complications can include neuropathy, kidney disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma, cataracts, skin infections, and more.
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