It is estimated that 42 million individuals suffer from high cholesterol in the United States alone. There are a variety of drugs currently on the market which promise to effectively lower cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, many of these medications have the potential to cause severe illness or death as well, although this information may not always be made available to the public. As consumers, we understand that no drug is one hundred percent safe and that most medications are accompanied by minor side effects. However, if a drug is likely to cause us serious harm, we expect to be informed. Unfortunately, consumers are vulnerable to the misleading and deceptive practices of drug manufacturing companies on a daily basis. Some drugs that remain on the market have side effects which significantly outweigh the possible benefits of the medication, leaving consumers unknowingly at risk for severe health complications just by taking their prescription medications.
In some cases, drug manufacturing companies conceal the major side effects of their medications in order to ensure the FDA’s approval. In other instances, the side effects of many drugs are not detected until after the drugs are already on the market and readily available to the public. This may be because the illness or disorder took years to develop and the pharmaceutical company never discovered the side effect during clinical trials, or because the drug was inadequately tested. Regardless, the dangerous side effects of some medications may not be exposed until millions of consumers haven taken the harmful drug, possibly for years. At this point, the drug should be recalled. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Cholesterol is critical to the normal and healthy function of every cell in the body. However, elevated levels of cholesterol can cause serious problems. In an effort to lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of consumers developing health conditions caused by high cholesterol, drug companies developed medications called statins. Unfortunately, these medications, particularly Crestor, have been associated with severe health conditions, including rhabdomyolysis.
Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle fibers which allows muscle fiber contents, called myoglobin, to be released into the bloodstream and then to be filtered out of the body by the kidneys. Myoglobin breaks down into potentially harmful compounds which can block the structures of the kidneys and cause acute kidney damage. Furthermore, dead muscle tissue can result in a large amount of fluid moving from the blood into the muscle, which may result in reduced blood flow to the kidneys, causing kidney damage and kidney failure. Common symptoms of rhabdomyolysis are abnormal urine color, muscle stiffness or aching, general weakness, muscle tenderness, and weakness of affected muscles. Other symptoms may include seizures, joint pain, weight gain and fatigue.
Crestor was called as a “super-statin” during its clinical development, boasting high potency and improved cholesterol reduction. Unfortunately, the drug’s potency was one of the main concerns of a number of groups that urged the FDA to deny Crestor approval. Regardless, the drug was approved in 2003. In 2004, a consumer interest organization called Public Citizen filed a petition with the FDA to remove Crestor from the market. In 2005, the FDA responded to Public Citizen in a letter denying the petition and claiming to have found no basis for concern regarding Crestor, compared to other statins already on the market. Although the FDA admitted no greater risk of rhabdomyolysis with Crestor than with other similar drugs, it has required AstraZeneca to include a rhabdomyolysis warning as well as a kidney failure warning on the product label.
Drug-induced rhabdomyolysis is far more common now than in the past, due to the introduction of increasingly more potent drugs into clinical practice. For example, in 2001, the cholesterol-lowering drug, Baycol, which was the most potent statin at the time, was recalled because of serious injury related to use of the drug. Before Baycol was approved by the FDA, there were no instances of rhabdomyolysis associated with the medication, but since its recall, over one hundred fatal instances of rhabdomyolysis have been linked to the drug. Crestor, on the other hand, had already been linked to life-threatening cases of rhabdomyolysis before it was even approved by the FDA. A mere five months after the drug was put on the market, the death of a 39-year-old woman suffering from Crestor-related rhabdomyolysis and kidney failure was reported. The FDA knew about the dangers of Crestor before it was even approved. Unfortunately, the public did not.
It is estimated that 4.5 million people have been prescribed Crestor, and these people may be at risk for developing severe health issues. Rhabdomyolysis is a serious condition which can result in life-altering consequences and even death. Victims of rhabdomyolysis associated with the use of Crestor are not at fault. Drug manufacturing companies should be held accountable for the dangerous side effects linked to their drugs and the FDA should function in the best interest of the public, not of drug companies.
Without accurate information from pharmaceutical companies and the FDA, consumers are robbed of the right to make an informed decision regarding their medications, with knowledge of all risks and benefits involved. The only way to stand up against the misleading practices of drug companies and receive reimbursement for your injuries is to contact a Crestor attorney to discuss the benefits of filing a Crestor lawsuit. A number of Crestor injury case are currently being investigated. If you or a loved one has suffered from Crestor-related rhabdomyolysis, a Crestor lawyer may be able to help you collect the compensation you are entitled to.