Recent research has uncovered a link between the use of the cholesterol medication, Crestor, and severe side effects, including liver damage. Although cholesterol is critical to many of the body’s functions, elevated levels of bad cholesterol can result in major health issues for affected individuals, such as heart attack, stroke and heart disease. Crestor was approved by the FDA in 2003 to lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, or types of fat, in the blood, but recent studies have indicated the drug’s tendency to cause a number of life-threatening side effects, which may actually outweigh the drug’s possible benefits.
Crestor is one of a group of drugs called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, or statins. Crestor is manufactured by AstraZeneca and has been marketed by the company as the most powerful of the already powerful collection of statins already on the market. Unfortunately, even the potency of Crestor’s standard dosage is too intense for the typical individual suffering from high cholesterol. The drug claims to reduce low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, by 46-52%, when most people require only a 20-30% reduction. Consumers should be warned that just because a drug is marketed as stronger and more effective, it doesn’t mean it is the right medication for everyone. For example, this exposure to extremely potent doses of Crestor has been associated with an increased risk of developing liver damage.
The liver is an integral part of the body’s functioning and is responsible for a number of things, including detoxification, protein synthesis and digestion. The organ produces and secretes bile which assists in digestion of fats, purifies the blood by changing harmful chemicals into harmless ones, and produces important substances, including proteins. When drugs interrupt the function of the liver, the individual may experience serious consequences. Drug-induced liver disease can be caused by physician-prescribed medications, including Crestor. If the liver becomes damaged, liver dialysis can provide short-term benefits, but there is currently no way to compensate for the absence of a functioning liver. Liver damage comes in a variety of forms depending on severity and cause. Common symptoms of liver disease are fatigue, weakness, abdominal pain and loss of appetite. More specific symptoms include jaundice, itching and easy bruising.
Crestor decreases levels of cholesterol by inhibiting an enzyme in the liver that is responsible for manufacturing bad cholesterol, or LDL, while simultaneously increasing levels of good cholesterol, or HDL. Because the drug works directly in the liver, it can have adverse side effects on the organ, including increasing an individual’s risk of liver damage. The most common liver-related problem cause by statins is elevations in blood levels of liver enzymes. In fact, clinical studies have found elevations in 0.5-3% of individuals who take statins. The risk of liver damage may be multiplied if individuals have a history of liver conditions, or if Crestor is taken in combination with other medications or with the frequent use of alcohol. Potential Crestor consumers should undergo blood tests prior to beginning Crestor treatment and periodically throughout use of the drug.
The dangers associated with Crestor have been apparent for years. In 2005, a consumer interest group called Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to recall the drug because of its potential to cause significant harm. The FDA denied the petition and claimed to have found no basis for concern regarding Crestor, although the angency did require Crestor to update its warning label to include new side effects. Instead of instituting a ban on the drug, the FDA did the exact opposite a few years later. In 2010, the FDA approved a wider use of Crestor, allowing the drug to be marketed to healthy individuals who may be at risk of developing high cholesterol in the future. The new indication was based upon information gathered by researchers in a study which suggested that Crestor can decrease an individual’s risk of heart attack by 55% and stroke by 48%. Experts warn that these percentages may be misleading though; because the study compares virtually healthy individuals with individuals taking a placebo, the 55% actually translates to only two people out of 1,000. In other words, 500 people would have to be treated with Crestor for one year in order to avoid one heart attack. This supposedly revealing study was financially supported by AstraZeneca, Crestor’s manufacturing company, and has now made it possible for 6.5 million healthy Americans to qualify for Crestor use.
Unfortunately, the risks associated with Crestor have been evident since before the drug was even approved by the FDA, although the public was largely unaware, and its reputation is not improving. Recent studies have compared Crestor to Baycol, another powerful statin drug which was recalled in 2001 after its potential for danger became apparent, and has since been linked to over one hundred fatalities. A number of studies have detailed the harmful side effects of Crestor on individuals with high cholesterol, but a study published in The Lancet, indicates that Crestor may cause significant illness and even death in previously healthy individuals, for which the new Crestor indication is intended. According to The New York Times, the Lancet study was based upon an extensive analysis of several clinical trials involving statins. Furthermore, the study included unpublished data and the results of the Crestor clinical study that was reviewed by the FDA before the expanded use for Crestor was approved.
Crestor has been heavily marketed by AstraZeneca to individuals suffering from high cholesterol, and healthy individuals alike, as a safe and effective method of reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, recent research has indicated that the study from which the majority of this information has been gathered may not be as reliable as we originally thought. The most “telling” study in favor of Crestor was actually paid for by Crestor’s manufacturing company, AstraZeneca, and was led by the man who invented the C-reactive protein test, on which the study was based. Unfortunately, consumers are vulnerable to the misleading practices of big drug companies on a daily basis. The only way to stand up to the deception and negligence of pharmaceutical companies is to contact a Crestor attorney to discuss the benefits of filing a lawsuit. A lawsuit can help individuals protect their rights as consumers as well as bring attention to the need for safer drugs on the market. Victims of Crestor-related injury are not at fault; drug manufacturing companies should be held accountable for the dangers associated with their drugs and the injuries sustained by consumers. If you or a loved one has suffered from liver damage and you believe Crestor to be the cause, contact a Crestor lawyer to collect the compensation you deserve.