Zocor is a drug prescribed to lower cholesterol in people with high cholesterol or high risk of developing high cholesterol or heart disease. Its active ingredient, simvastatin, is also sold bundled with other drugs as Vytorin and Simcor. It’s part of a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, relatively new drugs that became popular when one study showed that a statin lowered heart attacks, strokes and other major cardiovascular problems even in people with normal cholesterol. As a result, statins may be prescribed to people who have risk factors for heart disease but normal cholesterol, as a preventive measure.
However, Zocor’s popularity has fallen since studies showed that 80-mg doses, the highest dose with FDA approval, were associated with an increased risk of muscle damage and kidney failure from a disease called rhabdomyolysis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety warning on Zocor in 2011 after receiving reports of muscle injury in Zocor patients. This includes drug injury reports made directly to the FDA as well as the results of clinical trials. In one trial that compared large groups of patients taking 20-mg and 80-mg doses of Zocor, the 20-mg group suffered zero cases of rhabdomyolysis and one case of muscle damage (myopathy), while the 80-mg group had 52 cases of myopathy and 22 cases of rhabdomyolysis. As a result, the FDA now advises doctors not to prescribe 80-mg doses to new patients at all. Patients who get the high dose of Zocor should be patients who took the drug for a year or more with no muscle damage.
In rhabdomyolysis, the patient’s muscle tissue breaks down due to physical or chemical damage: rhabdomyolysis caused by Zocor is created by chemical damage. Patients with this form of rhabdomyolysis feel unexplained muscle pain, weakness and swelling. Chemicals from the damaged muscles enter the patient’s bloodstream, disturbing normal body chemistry and causing symptoms like nausea, confusion and tea-colored urine. Because some of these chemicals are harmful to the kidneys, the condition can cause kidney damage, difficulty urinating and kidney failure within a few days. The risk of injury from Zocor appears to be linked to genetics, and especially acute in people of Chinese descent. It’s also higher in people taking certain other drugs, including the mineral niacin. That’s why rhabdomyolysis sufferers often seek out a zocor lawyer to pursue lawsuits against the manufacturer for failure to warn.
Rhabdomyolysis is a serious health condition that could lead in extreme cases to death from kidney failure. Even the muscle damage from myopathy can cause patients to lose their ability to live their daily lives without pain. Zocor’s manufacturer, Merck, is already facing lawsuits around the United States from people who suffered muscle and kidney damage because they took Zocor. Because millions of people around the world have been prescribed Zocor, the number of lawsuits may only increase. Like all manufacturers, Merck has a legal obligation under Missouri law to warn patients about safety risks from its drugs, including the risk of muscle and kidney damage. If it does not, it’s liable in failure to warn lawsuits from people who were hurt and their Missouri Zocor lawyers.
E. Ryan Bradley represents families across Missouri who were affected by Zocor injuries, including kidney failure, myopathy and more. Based in St. Louis, our Missouri Zocor lawyers focus on representing clients who suffered serious injuries after taking a drug they trusted was safe. Patients often believe a drug wouldn’t be available if it weren’t safe, but unfortunately, experience shows otherwise. Drug companies can make millions or even billions from a popular name-brand drug, and some have been known to downplay or suppress negative information to protect those profits. When patients are hurt by a side effect that was known but not disclosed, they have the right to hold the negligent drug company legally liable. In a lawsuit, injured families can claim compensation for medical costs, lost income and other financial costs, as well as their pain, suffering, and any permanent disability or loss in the family.
If you or someone you love suffered a serious injury after taking Zocor, you should call E. Ryan Bradley to discuss how we can help. For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, you can send us an email or call 314-400-0000.