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Study Sees Diabetes Risk with High-Dose Statins, Fewer Benefits from Zocor

Jun 23, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

A new study is providing yet another reason to avoid high-dose Zocor.  The study, conducted by researchers in the U.K., has found that high doses of statins, including Zocor and its generic equivalent, simvastatin, are associated with an increased risk of diabetes.  The same study also found that 80 mg of simvastatin was not as effective at reducing heart risks compared to the same dose of Lipitor.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) restricted the use of 80 mg Zocor and simvastatin after determining the high-dose version carried a higher risk of muscle damage, including a form called rhabdomyolysis that can cause kidney failure.

This new study involved a metanalysis of five different studies involving 32,752 patients, all of whom received either high or moderate doses of statins.  The study found that those on a high dose faced 12 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  Overall, for every 498 patients treated with a high-dose statin, there was one extra case of diabetes.

At the same type, the study found that those taking 80 mg Lipitor experienced a 22 percent reduction in risk of heart attack and stroke, compared to only a 5 percent reduction in risk for those taking the same dose of Zocor.  This led the researchers to conclude that high-dose of Lipitor is preferable to 80 mg Zocor.

Because the benefits of high-dose statins (other than Zocor) outweigh their risks, the study authors recommended that people taking such drugs continue, but undergo yearly blood sugar checks. 

The new statin study is published in the June 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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