New Safety Alerts Added to Statins . . . But is It Too Little, Too Late?
Statins have had their fair share of criticism, especially in the past couple of years. Was it deserved? Absolutely. Should the FDA have been looking closer at these cholesterol-reducing drugs? Probably. Well, they have stepped up and issued new warnings on some brands’ labels . . . but is it too little, too late?
Drugs such as Lipitor, Zocor, Vytorin and Crestor are among the brand names that have a new safety alert added to their informational labels. This new warning is thanks to federal health officials who discovered that patients who take these medications may suffer from muscle pain, diabetes or memory loss. Even though there have been numerous reports and complaints from patients for years regarding these side effects, this is the first time the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially recognized the link.
So . . . Does this mean you should stop taking those medications?
Does the Good Outweigh the Bad?
These cholesterol-inhibiting drugs, the most popular one being Lipitor, have a proven track record that backs up its usefulness in many cases. For this reason, federal officials claim that users should not be scared away from taking the medication, as the good can far outweigh the bad. However, there is room for concern. If you’re experiencing any side effects, such as forgetfulness, confusion, and muscle pain, you should most definitely take time for a visit to your doctor. These side effects have been reported by patients of any age, and regardless of which statin they are taking.
And, if you have diabetes, you may want to take extra caution. Health officials recommend that doctors keep a close eye on blood sugar levels after starting their patients on a statin therapy, as blood sugar levels can also rise in some users of Crestor and a few other statins.
What Exactly ARE Statins?
Statins are a type of drug used to lower cholesterol levels, especially in the liver, and is among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. Last year in the United States alone, over 21 million patients were prescribed statins.
According to experts, statins are best used by those who are already suffering from heart disease. But those who haven't had any history of cardiovascular disease, yet suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol may find some benefits in taking it . . . even though it may not be as effective. Some studies show that engaging in a statin therapy could significantly reduce the mortality rates in people suffering from preexisting cardiovascular disease.
However, there may be things that you can do to naturally lower your cholesterol – and avoid the danger altogether. Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t do much to broadcast those options. So if you’re looking to go the “au natural” route, you will most likely have to seek out a naturopath doctor.
Is the FDA in Bed with Big Pharma?
The news of these new safety alerts may come as a relief to those who believe that the FDA takes far too long to issue any official warnings or add alerts to a drug's labeling. While it has taken the FDA a few years to “investigate” the many reports stemming from patients using statins, the conclusion proves what many have already known. Which begs the question: where does the FDA’s loyalty lie? With the safety of the people? Or with their own pockets . . . pockets filled by Big Pharma?
Is there hope for a more efficient and effective FDA? Recently, the agency seems to have been more involved with the public and its complaints. And they claim to have made an effort to issue warnings early on and become as transparent as possible with alerts and labeling, before potentially dangerous side effects do irreversible harm.
Time will only tell if they continue to act in the public’s best interest, of if the allure of dollar signs is too much to overcome.