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Lipitor Lawsuits

Lipitor bottleLipitor (atorvastatin) is a blockbuster drug manufactured by Pfizer meant to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and raise levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, HDL). Lipitor was one of the first of the class of popular “statin” anti-cholesterol drugs to hit the U.S. market, receiving FDA approval in 1996. Since then, doctors have prescribed the drug to approximately 30 million Americans in an attempt to lower their risks of adverse cardiovascular events, including stroke and heart attack.

Though Lipitor has proven effective in lowering bad cholesterol, the FDA felt compelled in 2012 to order a label change for Lipitor and fellow statin Zocor, to alert patients and their physicians to an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes while taking the drugs.

Numerous studies have backed up this cause for concern, with one University of Massachusetts Medical School study finding that postmenopausal women over the age 63 using Lipitor had a 50% greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes that women who were not using statins. Research has indicated a higher risk, on average, for women over men.

In recent years, patients who developed type 2 diabetes while taking Lipitor as prescribed by their doctor have filed product liability lawsuits against Pfizer claiming not only that the statin was the direct cause of their diabetes, but that the drug maker failed to adequately warn them of the risk they were facing.

These cases have not been few and far between; over 2000 Lipitor lawsuits have been centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to better streamline the litigation process. Lipitor lawyers continue to review cases of women who believe atorvastatin caused them to develop diabetes, to help determine whether they are eligible to file a drug injury lawsuit. Women who believe they may have a case against Pfizer are advised that differing state statutes of limitations control the window of time in which they can file a claim.

Lipitor side effects

Lipitor works by inhibiting an enzyme in the liver that is resposnsible for producing cholesterol. Pfizer claims that Lipitor can reduce LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 39-60%.

In addition to the study mentioned above, other research showing evidence for a link between Lipitor and diabetes include:

  1. A study published in the British Medical in 2012 gathered health data from 500,000 Canadiens, finding that Lipitor users had a 22% greater chance of developing new-onset diabetes.
  2. Research that appeared in 2011 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology demonstrated that patients with high cholesterol taking the largest prescribed doses of atorvastatin faced a higher risk (9%) of type 2 diabetes than patients in a placebo group (6%). After factoring in variables such as obesity, age, and whether or not the study participant was a smoker, the researchers discovered a total increased diabetes risk of 37% for people taking Lipitor.
  3. A 2014 study appearing in Diabetes Care found a correlation between the length of time patients take Lipitor and and an increased likelihood that they will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Depending on how long patients took Lipitor, the risk for diabetes was shown to rise as high as 32% greater than those who didn’t take atorvastatin.
  4. In 2014, researchers in The Lancet discovered that the liver enzyme inhibited by  Lipitor and other statins influences a variety of blood sugar factors, which the researchers speculate may reveal the mechanism by which Lipitor can cause diabetes.
  5. An April 2015 Journal of General Internal Medicine study found that “statin use was associated with a significantly higher risk of new-onset diabetes, even in a very healthy population.” People taking Lipitor and other statins were found to be at an 87% higher risk of developing diabetes, and an astronomical 250% increased risk to develop serious complications from type 2 diabetes.

Health complications arising from type 2 diabetes include:

  • Skin infections and skin disorders
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Glaucoma, cataracts & other eye complications
  • Numbness in the feet
  • Stroke
  • Ketoacidosis (high acid levels in the blood)
  • Kidney disease
  • Gastroparesis
  • High blood pressure
  • HHNS (Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome)
  • Lipitor lawsuits

Lipitor cases consolidated

Lipitor diabetes lawsuits filed around the country were consolidated into federal multi district litigation (MDL 2502) in South Carolina in 2014 for the purposes of streamlining pre-trial processes through shared discovery and other procedures. In a transfer order, the JPML (Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation), stated: ““We now know that Lipitor diabetes lawsuits are pending in at least three state courts. Creation of an MDL likely will make it easier to coordinate, as needed, pretrial proceedings in both the state and federal cases.”

As is customary in MDL proceedings, individual cases which are deemed to be most representative of the larger group – by virtue of making similar allegations of misconduct and claiming similar injuries suffered as a result – are selected for a series of bellwether trials meant to gauge the likely reaction from juries to the arguments of plaintiffs and defendants. Presided over by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel, the initial Lipitor MDL bellwether trial will take place in November 2015, with the second bellwether case going to trial in early 2016.  While outcomes of bellwether trials are not binding for the remaining MDL lawsuits, they may help to spur settlement negotiations between parties, or otherwise bring about a speedy resolution to the ample litigation.

Plaintiffs in Lipitor diabetes lawsuits are seeking damages for all medical expenses – past, present and future – related to their type 2 diabetes, as well as lost income, diminished earning capacity, and loss of quality of life. Some suits also seek punitive damages against Pfizer for acting irresponsibly in regard to public health and safety by withholding evidence of Lipitor health risks from consumers.

Causes of actions in Lipitor lawsuits include:

  • Product liability
  • Negligence
  • Failure to warn
  • Breach of warranty
  • Fraud
  • Unjust enrichment
  • Punitive damages

A significant obstacle for plaintiffs in pharmaceutical injury lawsuits – including Lipitor diabetes cases – is meeting the burden of proof in showing that the drug was the one, exclusive cause of the patient’s injury. Defendant drug companies will often argue for alternative causes of a patient’s health problems. Therefore, plaintiffs in Lipitor cases who are most likely to succeed are those who did not possess previous risk factors for diabetes before taking Lipitor.

The majority of women filing Lipitor diabetes lawsuits:

  • Are between 51 and 70 years old
  • Have a BMI no higher than 30
  • Have no previous heart attack history
  • Do not have a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Took Lipitor for at least 2 months before being diagnosed with diabetes
  • Were diagnosed with diabetes within 6 months of ceasing taking the cholesterol medication

Lipitor lawsuits proceed

Over the nearly 20 years since it hit the market, Lipitor is estimated to have generated almost $130 billion in profits. As the Lipitor multidistrict litigation continues to head towards its first trials, new cases are steadily added to the consolidation as more diabetes sufferers file suit. Though the MDL is located in South Carolina, Lipitor lawsuits filed anywhere in the U.S. are eligible for inclusion.

Similar diabetes lawsuits have been filed in regard to Crestor, Zocor and other popular statins.

  1. American Diabetes Association, Living with Diabetes Complications,

  2. U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina,

  3., Lipitor,