The FDA has just updated its warnings on cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. These include Altoprev (lovastatin extended-release), Crestor (rosuvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin), Livalo (pitavastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), and Zocor (simvastatin), as well as the combination products Advicor (lovastatin/niacin extended-release), Simcor (simvastatin/niacin extended-release) and Vytorin (simvastatin/ezetimibe).
For years, some patients have been complaining of memory difficulties while they are taking statin drugs to lower their cholesterol. Many find that their brain function returns to normal within a few days or weeks of stopping the drug, but some suffer for a very long time after discontinuation. The FDA has now acknowledged that these drugs can have cognitive side effects; the agency warns patients not to discontinue the drug on their own, but to consult with their health care professionals.
In addition, the feds are alerting patients taking a statin that their risk of type 2 diabetes (also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes) is increased. The FDA believes that “the heart benefit of statins outweighs this small increased risk.” Patients who are already struggling with blood sugar control, however, might well wish to discuss this with their health care providers. There are other ways to control cholesterol that do not raise blood sugar levels.
We have been receiving reports of serious muscle and memory problems linked to statins for decades. We have tried repeatedly to get the FDA’s attention about these complications but have been met with a great deal of resistance….until now. For almost a decade we have been warning that statins might raise blood sugar in susceptible individuals. At long last the FDA seems to have caught up with the wisdom of our readers and visitors to this website. If you would like to read more about statin side effects check out this link.
For more information on these problems from statins, readers may want to check our book, Best Choices from The People’s Pharmacy, in which we discuss a number of statin side effects and alternative ways to get cholesterol down. It is more relevant today than when we wrote it a few years ago. There is also a chapter on diabetes and non-drug ways that can help control blood sugar.
The FDA urges patients and physicians to report negative side effects of statin drugs to its MedWatch program. We also suggest that you report your experience with cognitive and memory problems below. If you have had more trouble controlling your blood sugar while taking a statin-type drug we would also like to hear from you.