PART 1: Should rosuvastatin (Crestor®) be withdrawn from the market?
This is a two-part series about the cholesterol-lowering drug, rosuvastatin. PART 1 reports on the early safety warnings and how an aggressive marketing campaign helped catapult the drug's popularity.
NOTE TO READERS: In early January, Sidney Wolfe, physician and co-founder of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group tragically passed away. Prior to his death, I had the honour of speaking with Dr Wolfe about his efforts to have rosuvastatin withdrawn from the market.
The cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor® (generic name rosuvastatin) was the last of seven statins in the drug class to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), paving the way for other regulators to follow the lead.
With the help of an aggressive marketing campaign, the cholesterol-busting drug quickly rose to prominence in an already crowded market.
In Australia for example, rosuvastatin is now the most prescribed drug, with over 14 million prescriptions written in the 2020/2021 financial year. Its competitor, atorvastatin, is a close second.
Early safety issues overlooked
Early testing showed that rosuvastatin was the most potent of all statins (milligram for milligram) at lowering cholesterol. But its higher potency, meant greater toxicity.