High Doses of Cholesterol Drugs Raise Risk of Diabetes, Researchers Find

People who take high doses of cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s Lipitor and AstraZeneca Plc (AZN)’s Crestor have a greater risk of developing diabetes and a lower risk of heart complications than those who take smaller amounts of the medicines, researchers said.

The finding supports work from the same researchers published last year showing patients taking the drugs known as statins were more likely to develop diabetes than those given a placebo. The risk of diabetes rising in parallel with the amount of medicine taken by patients strengthens the association, the researchers said.

The researchers analyzed five earlier trials, involving 32,752 patients, to tease out the effect of the drug dose. Those getting intensive treatment were 12 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, the study found. Patients also were 16 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or surgery to clear their arteries or to die from cardiovascular disease during a five-year period than those given a smaller amount, according to the research.

“Clinicians should be vigilant for the development of diabetes in patients receiving intensive statin therapy,” said the investigators, led by David Preiss, a research fellow at the University of Glasgow. “It is important to quantify any potential long-term risks to enable physicians and patients to make informed choices,” they said.

The study appears in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Fay Cortez in London at mcortez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

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