Q. I have been fascinated with letters from people reporting that Lipitor weakened their muscles. I believe Lipitor triggered my ALS. Until last month, my doctors wouldn’t listen to me, but then a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed a link. Please warn others.

A. The article authored by WHO researchers was published in Drug Safety (June 2007). It points out that an unexpectedly high number of people developed Lou Gehrig’s disease while on a statin-type cholesterol-lowering drug. Lou Gehrig’s disease is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. There is no cure for this degenerative disease of muscles and nerves.

The connection between ALS and statins is controversial. The FDA is not convinced there is a link.
The WHO report advises doctors to discontinue statin therapy if patients develop “serious neuromuscular disease such as the ALS-like syndrome.” People who believe they have experienced such an effect may report it to us at www.peoplespharmacy.com. We will forward such cases to researchers and the FDA for further review.

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  1. Jasper

    My father took Statins for several years. He was diagnosed ALS in 2012 and died the same year.

  2. Val
    San Diago CA.

    I have been on Statin drug generic Crestor for 16 years. Yes, I to have all the side affects, related from taken this drug. muscle weakness, hard to swallow, my eye sight is more blurry than ever, reflex difficult, twitching, memory loss, slurred speech, neck pain, charlie horse in my leg as I awake, trouble sleeping, etc. A friend of mine husband and wife are in the medical field and they refuse to take Statin drug for those exact reasons. I think I am going to stop after this last presentation.

  3. Carol

    My cholesterol level has been over 300 since I was 40. I am now 73 years old. Three different doctors have tried to put me on Statins. I took Mevacor, Lipitor and later Setia for only a few weeks each and my joint and muscle pain was horrific. I stopped taking Statins forever. My cholesterol is still over 300. I am a healthy senior. Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. Educate yourself and read about Ancel Keys and how the medical community has been wrong for many years in blaming high cholesterol for heart issues.

  4. Jean
    Belleville, Illinois

    I was on Lipitor for a year and developed pain in my muscles and joints. As Lipitor was the only medication I was taking, I stopped and the pain went away. When I told my doctor that I stopped because of the pain I was experiencing, she told me that the medication wasn’t causing the pain, but that I was probably getting arthritis! I changed doctors. My cholesterol was 200 at the time and I heard about Cholest-Off, an all-natural gel pill made of plant sterols. After taking Cholest-Off, my cholesterol dropped to 170 and I have continued taking it. My new doctor approves, since it helps me and I have not had problems with my cholesterol since.

  5. Tim

    I was on Lipitor for about 8 years and just recently stopped taking it in April. The reason I stopped was due to Left leg weakness which has gotten worse. I have had swallowing problems for the last 7 years and contributed that to reflux issues and hiatal hernia. I have always had droopy eyelids but in the last 4 years my vision has gotten worse. I looked at all these issues as independent ones until my weakness in my leg.
    I have ulcerative colitis which is an auto-immune disease and PSC which is a disease of the livers bile ducts. I was leaning toward myasthinia gravis (another auto-immune disease) but my suspicion is that Lipitor had some consequence on my physical problems. I will get a barium swallow tomorrow and a visit with a neurologist soon.

  6. C. Grace

    My father died of ALS and the only medication he was on was Lipitor !
    He never had any other health problem at all then suddenly ALS !
    Makes me wonder!

  7. mww

    My mom took Liptor for a year, muscle aches and pains and she went off. She was dignosed with ALS in September 2009 and passes away February 2010…she was 73 years old.

  8. melinda3832

    Dear Nancy:
    My Dr. recently wanted me to start on a statin drug. I have not started the med’s yet and I doubt that i will. My friends used Lethecin to lower theirs and I am trying that.
    Your body is your own, Dr. has no right to get mad and think they are god just because they went to med school. Sure they know some things we do not. But many do not know the natural way. There is always more for all of us to learn. Take care and have courage to do what is good for you. Check around for another Dr.

  9. I.D.P.

    Not enough information in any of these postings to draw conclusions but they are indeed alarming. I am concerned that folks might make rash decisions without medical advice (and if you don’t believe or like what your Dr. says or how they treat you, for God’s sake people, get a new Dr.!)
    I have been on statins for many years getting the best results with the lowest dose using Lipitor. Lipitor has been around the longest and so has the most information and long term experiences. I am no fan of big Pharma but when you’ve tried diet, exercise, weight loss and it produces no notable change in your cholesterol levels, you begin to realize there are different causes. Menopause and lowering hormone levels trigger higher levels, genetics play a role. One size does not fit all when it comes to this issue.
    For a variety of reasons I decided to try a low dose HRT regimen using bio-identicals. That helped lower my cholesterol to the lowest it’s been in many years and I am no taking only 10 mg. of Lipitor daily. My numbers are in the best range they’ve been in a long time.
    My mother died from ALS many years ago (no statins involved) but after reading all of this I was alarmed. I’d love nothing more than to get off the statins completely but you have to weigh the risks and benefits. Heart attack (which my father had) or ALS (mother) or cancer? Pick your poison I guess. I do know that the OTC treatments such as red rice yeast etc. all have side effects and issues, may not work for everyone and can be costly so they are not necessarily the answer either.
    I would say I have minor memory issues and minor muscle pain which I can’t specifically attribute to statins. I am concerned but I need more information before I give up my Lipitor. Are there any scientific studies under way?

  10. Sandra D.

    My husband, Phil, took Lipitor and developed ALS. Before being put on this drug, he was is great shape, very active, and a pillar in his community. Although he is still alive today, he is bedridden and has lost the ability to move, speak, and swallow. He does communicate with a Dynavok device. I have done a great deal of research and there is no doubt in my mind that Lipitor caused his ALS. I strongly suggest that anyone taking this drug stop immediately.

    • Amy

      My husband was on Lipitor for a couple of years. He had an arthritic hip and had issues walking, after hip replacement he noticed both legs having issues (we think the arthritic hip ‘masked’ the leg issues) and developed drop foot.

      Eventually going to a walker, then full wheelchair and currently he is not mobile on his own on any level. When he was diagnosed with ALS they IMMEDIATELY took him off Lipitor. My thought is that some people may be genetically more susceptible to the issues (ALS one of them) than others.

      The fact that Lipitor has known muscle side effects makes me wonder if the drug was the cause of his ALS. We went from being 60+ and Mountain Biking, hiking, backpacking, camping, golfing and other strenuous activities to 0 in 6 short months. Our lives are very challenging and his legs are dead and have to be manually moved, his upper body is weakening and he has trouble maintaining his body upright when sitting and can’t sit up on his own. It seems that every 3 to 6 months we have to adjust and then he plateaus for 3 to 6 months before the next change.

      We wanted to retire and travel but that’s not going to happen now. Thankfully we went to Italy for 3 weeks (pre ALS) and on a River Cruise in Europe for 15 days while he was still able to stand and use a walker a bit. His mind is clear but his heart is heavy.

  11. LJS

    Discovering this blog and reading this shortly before Easter 2009 and the second anniversary of my mother’s death, I am horrified. My mother was on Lipitor for about a year before being diagnosed with ALS at age 74. There was no history of this disease in our very large family. She died 14 months after diagnosis. Who makes Lipitor?

  12. Sharen J.

    The comments related to this article sadden me. I lost my father to ALS in November of 2008. Several years prior, he had been diagnosed with Huntington’s which runs in the family. No one thought much of the slurred speech and muscle weakness. One illness is NOT related to the other. We both believe that the ALS was brought on by seven years of taking Lipitor. He stopped taking it as soon as we found comments on-line linking the two.
    Of course, his doctors denied any connection. My father was a hard working, energetic, strong man who was not overweight a day in his life. At the tender age of 64, Lipitor took him from this earth way too soon! If you take a statin drug, be VERY cautious! I encourage you to look for alternative solutions.

  13. tony a

    Started on Simvastatin three months ago, and have now (for the past three weeks) developed serious pressure pain in the heels of both feet. I do not have high cholesterol, but was prescribed the statin “as a precautionary measure” because of my high blood pressure, and because a few years ago I apparently had a transient ischemic attack or mini stroke (trouble seeing in one eye). I’m fit, 70, have a healthy diet and , until the painful heel problem, plenty of exercise. So, no more statins for me!

  14. JAE

    I’ve been on Lipitor and Vytorin for about 2 years and I have started to feel weakness in my legs. I still run 2/3 miles a day and lift weights (43 yrs old), no pain but the weakness in my legs is very noticable. My doc did confirm that it could be the statins and recommened that I go off them for a while and see if the strength comes back. Glad I found this page as I thought I was the only one with this crazy problem.

  15. sobha

    My sister was on Lipitor less than a yr. She developed ALS. She is on a respirator now.

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