Statins and Diabetes: Joslin Doctor Responds to Controversy

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Joslin's Allison Goldfine, M.D., responds to the statin controversy in a New England Journal of Medicine editorial

Earlier this year, the FDA placed a warning label on the class of LDL cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.

The label states that “increases in glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and fasting serum glucose levels have been reported with statin use,” but continued to say that “FDA continues to believe that the cardiovascular benefits of statins outweigh these small increased risks.”

This action came as a response to trials data showing an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes diagnoses in patients who had been using statins compared to those using placebo. Combining data from multiple studies suggests that on average, 1 in 255 people on statins for four years were diagnosed with diabetes.

One in 255 may not seem like a lot, but considering approximately 24 million Americans are on one form of statin or another, that would translate to almost 100,000 new cases of type 2 diabetes (assuming none of the patients prescribed a statin already had diabetes).

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2 Responses to Statins and Diabetes: Joslin Doctor Responds to Controversy

  1. Peter says:

    So the next connecting question is, if you are already a diabetic, Type 2, does statin cause higher glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and fasting serum glucose levels? Does it counter glucose lowering drugs?

    • Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your question! Here is what Dr. Goldfine had to say:

      “Over many years of statin use, doctors have not clinically recognized discernible increases in glucose or glycosylated hemoglobin in patients with diabetes for whom they have prescribed statins. In the randomized clinical studies, the glycosylated hemoglobin levels were similar in the patients treated with statins compared to controls.

      These findings suggest that the effect of statins on blood sugars are small, and that diabetes medications are effective in patients with diabetes who use statins. Statins are effective to reduce major cardiovascular events in patients with diabetes. You should discuss risks and benefits of statin use, for you as an individual, with your care provider.”

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