Dr Sidney Wolfe, senior adviser of the health research group at Public Citizen in Washington, recently published in the journal The BMJ an opinion article concerning the use of rosuvastatin, the best-selling statin drug in the United States. The study is entitled “Rosuvastatin: winner in the statin wars, patients’ health notwithstanding.”
Rosuvastatin, marketed by AstraZeneca as Crestor, is prescribed in combination with diet, exercise and weight-loss to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and lower high cholesterol levels. In 2014, 22.3 million prescriptions of rosuvastatin were filled in the U.S.
According to Dr Wolfe, rosuvastatin should be withdrawn from the market as the health benefits that it offers do not outweigh the harmful side effects found to be associated with it. Rosuvastatin was approved by the FDA in 2003 for lowering cholesterol, but only in 2010 did it gain approval for preventing cardiovascular diseases, namely for primary prevention of heart attacks and strokes. This approval was based on a clinical trial study (JUPITER) that raised some concerns because the treatment was stopped early and the participants enrolled only had low cholesterol levels and low C reactive protein levels (an indicator of inflammation).
The JUPITER study revealed that rosuvastatin treatment was linked to a 26% increase on the incidence of new onset diabetes in comparison with the placebo control group, a finding that was corroborated in other studies.