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High-Potency Cholesterol Drugs Linked to Kidney Injury

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The use of highly potent cholesterol lowering drugs called statins have been linked to an increase in a person’s risk of developing kidney failure, a new study suggests. The research suggests that high potency versions of statin pills as opposed to low-potency pills are linked to slight elevated rates of kidney injury.

The study, which was conducted in different institutions and labs across Canada, estimates that for every 1,700 people who use high dose statins for a period of four-months, you would expect to see one person hospitalized.

While this number may seem insignificant the fact that there is widespread use of these statins can be cause for concern. According to the research “tens of millions” of North Americans are currently using these drugs so even side effects that are relatively uncommon are important to keep under control.

The research was conducted by the Canadian Network for Observational Drug Effect Studies, which is funded by Health Canada. The study was published in the medical journal BMJ. The data for the study was pulled from databases from seven Canadian provinces as well as from Britain and the United States. The study encompassed people aged 40 and older who had started taking statins between 1997 and 2008.

About 1/3 of the over 2 million people included in the study were administered the high-potency statins. High potency statins are defined as 10 milligrams or more of the active ingredient rosuvastatin, or as it is known commercially Crestor, 20 mg atorvastatin, which is sold as Lipitor, or 40 mg of simvastatin which is sold in pharmacies as Zocor.

Health Canada urges anybody who is currently taking a high-dose of statins to consult their physician to see if they may need to change their drug regimen.

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