Diabetes patients on Lipitor needed for URI study

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KINGSTON, R.I. – September 10, 2010 – If you have diabetes and are taking Lipitor™ you might want to join a University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy study that could help you and others with the disease.

Plus you can earn an easy $40.

Fatemeh Akhlaghi, URI associate professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, has a $200,000 American Heart Association grant to examine the effects of Lipitor, also known by the generic name of atorvastatin, on patients with diabetes and those without the disease.

Study subjects must be 18 to 65 years old, taking Lipitor, and be willing to have their blood drawn at URI Health Services or a South County Hospital laboratory at the South Kingstown Office Park on Salt Pond Road.

Akhlaghi has enough study subjects taking Lipitor who do not have diabetes. She needs 55 individuals taking Lipitor who also have diabetes.

To participate in the study, please contact Akhlaghi at 401.874.2899 or through email at diabetesstudy@etal.uri.edu. The study coordinator is Joyce Macwan, a doctoral student in the College of Pharmacy. After contacting the research team by phone or email, the subjects will be asked to visit one of the labs between 8 and 11 a.m. on a mutually convenient day where blood and urine samples will be collected. Study subjects will then be asked to complete a short questionnaire on the use of medications other than Lipitor.

Akhlaghi said initial lab studies suggest that patients with diabetes are less able to metabolize Lipitor, which can lead to severe muscle pain.

Lipitor is the most frequently prescribed drug to treat high cholesterol, but its effects on diabetic patients have never been studied. Up to 7 percent of patients treated with statins, drugs that treat high cholesterol, exhibit symptoms of muscle toxicity and 0.5 percent develop potentially fatal severe muscle breakdown, according to Akhlaghi.

Epidemiological evidence suggests that the incidence of severe muscle breakdown requiring hospitalization is three times higher in patients with diabetes, she said.