CANADA — The United States is not the only country where Lipitor manufacturer Pfizer, Inc. is getting hit with multiple lawsuits; Canadians have also joined in a class action lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant for its cholesterol medication Lipitor. The Canadian Lipitor class action names Pfizer Canada, Inc., the Canadian branch of Pfizer, but the allegations are fairly similar to those in the lawsuits brought against Pfizer in the United States.
In both countries, the lawsuits allege that using Lipitor resulted in type 2 diabetes and that Pfizer was aware – or should have been aware – of the grave health risks of their drug. The lawsuits further claim that despite its knowledge of the risk of diabetes for Lipitor users, Pfizer marketed its drug via aggressive marketing campaigns that misled consumers and downplayed the possible and serious side effects. The Canadian class action suit alleges that Canadians were not even informed of the serious health risks until 2013.
Lipitor (also known as atorvastatin calcium) is a statin that is taken to reduce “bad cholesterol” levels. Lipitor remains a popular cholesterol medication despite studies that have called into question its efficacy as well as linking it to serious side effects. In both the United States and Canada, Lipitor has been approved for use in reducing cholesterol levels. In Canada, Lipitor has been approved since 1997, while the United States Food and Drug Administration approved its use in 1996. However, following a recent study demonstrating a connection between the use of Lipitor and the development of type 2 diabetes (particularly in women) and memory loss, the U.S. FDA has issued a consumer update about the drug as well as new requirements that Pfizer and the makers of other similar drugs include warnings on their drugs’ labels that detail the risks of taking these cholesterol medications.
The Canadian class action lawsuit against Pfizer seeks $40 million in damages, which would work out to just over $1 million per plaintiff. Although the result of the class action will have no legal effect on the U.S. suits, they may set a positive precedent.
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