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Number of Lawsuits over Pfizer’s Lipitor Spikes

Update Date: Aug 08, 2014 11:46 AM EDT
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Pfizer, an American multinational pharmaceutical company, is facing a surge of lawsuits over its anti-cholesterol drug, Lipitor. According to lawsuits, the women believe that the corporation knowingly sold Lipitor to customers without warning them about serious side effects, particularly an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Based on the gender breakdown of the plaintiffs, Lipitor appears to increase diabetes risk in women more so than men.

So far, the number of lawsuits that have been filed increased from 56 to about 1,000. These lawsuits started after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the risks involved with taking Lipitor and other statins in 2012. In the warning, the FDA stated that these cholesterol-lowering drugs were linked to memory loss and a "small increased risk" of diabetes. Despite the warning, some experts believed that the benefits of the drug outweighed the risks.

"Clearly, we think that the heart benefit of statins outweighs this small increased risk [for diabetes]," Amy Egan, a deputy director for safety at the agency's Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology, had commented at the time reported by Reuters.

The cases filed against Pfizer related to diabetes have been consolidated into one Federal courtroom. The first case is scheduled for next July in Charleston, South Carolina. The lead lawyer who will be representing the plaintiffs will be H. Blair Hahn from Mount Pleasant, SC. Hahn stated that the almost 1,000 lawsuits involve 4,000 women, with the possibility of that number increasing to 10,000 or more. Pfizer has denied liability and stated that it would fight the lawsuits.

"We will ask a jury to decide what it's worth to take five years of someone's life," Hahn said.

Lipitor is the best selling prescription drug of all time. Since it entered the market in 1996, Lipitor has made more than $130 billion in sales. More than 29 million American patients have been prescribed Lipitor.

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