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Just as penicillin did it ages ago, statin arrived during early 1990s to completely alter the medical landscape.
The doctors and the patients alike took it as a God-sent miraculous panacea for heart ailments. Never before could any drug reduce blood cholesterol levels so sharply if the patient just popped a pill! Moreover, the drug seemed absolutely safe with hardly any side effects.
“Baycol” a cerivastatin based drug manufactured by Bayer AG was approved in 1997 in US and the world seemed to be an even more peaceful place!
All was well till early 2001 with reports of undesirable side effects trickling in once in a while. Nobody gave much importance to those complaints considering them more as exceptions rather than the rule.
But those trickles gained in strength, became rivulets which coalesced to form a mighty river which finally broke its banks and caused an immense flood of woes by the second quarter of 2001, so much so, that Bayer had no option but to
voluntarily recall Baycol on 8th August, 2001.
What had gone wrong?
It came to light that statin can be directly responsible for a life threatening disease called rhabdomyolysis which causes breakdown of muscle cells. These contents spill into the blood stream. The kidneys go into turbo mode to clear the blood of this flotsam, try valiantly, but fail to do so and finally shut down; causing the patient in most of the cases to die.
The FDA has received reports of 31 deaths on account of side effects of Baycol, but certain unofficial organizations claim that such deaths have already been three times more than the official figure with reports of non-fatal hospitalization due to rhabdomyolysis touching almost 400.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology has jointly declared that the negative side effects of Baycol far outweigh its benefits.
If you are currently on statin and start experiencing general weakness, dark urine, fever, vomiting or find that the calf and back muscles are paining badly or feeling sore, FDA advises you to stop the drug immediately and rush to your doctor. Any delay might cause irreparable damage!
A last bit advice, no, not from FDA, but from sound common sense!
Try to control your cholesterol by switching over to low-fat diet, plenty of well coordinated exercise and consciously try to reduce stress at your work. If your cholesterol level does not cross the danger mark, you won’t need Baycol at all,