Saturday, March 3, 2012

Do Statins Hurt The Liver? An Update

Are you still one of the many doctors or patients who worry that statins hurt the liver? As posted here 9 months ago, this concern is nonsense.

And now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally had the courage to state so.

The FDA stated in a recent safety announcement: “the available scientific evidence does not support the routine monitoring of liver biochemistries in asymptomatic patients receiving statins … because (1) irreversible liver damage resulting from statins is exceptionally rare and is likely idiosyncratic in nature, and (2) no data exist to show that routine periodic monitoring of liver biochemistries is effective in identifying the very rare individual who may develop significant liver injury from ongoing statin therapy.”

In other words, there is no need to be worried that statins hurt the liver and there is no need to do routine blood tests to check for liver damage from statins.
There is actually no good evidence that statins cause liver damage.

And for years, there was no good evidence that any of the statins hurt the liver.

How much harm and untold anxiety were caused by the previous FDA requirement to monitor  liver tests in people on statins?

How many people had their statin stopped inappropriately and suffered a cardiovascular event because blood tests worried the doctor that the statin hurt the liver?

How much time and money were wasted on making patients go for unnecessary blood tests to monitor their liver?

Look, I admit knowledge is not fixed. We learn over time. 
New evidence becomes available.

But our regulatory authorities seem very predisposed to send out scary warnings and alerts about dubious harms.  Of course, in so doing, they cannot be blamed because of failure to warn. They “cover” themselves.

But there is real harm caused when these authorities scare people unnecessarily or when they fail to withdraw warnings, cautions or alerts that are no longer supported by the evidence.

Similar considerations and politics affect FDA drug approvals.

For now, as pointed out here last year, if you have been prescribed a statin there is no worry it may hurt your liver.

Check back soon for more evidence based updates, not influenced by politics.

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