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Cholesterol-lowering drugs may raise diabetes risk

TORONTO - Health Canada is updating the labelling for commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs to advise users they may be at an increased risk of developing diabetes.

The changes are being made to labels on all statin drugs.

The department is making the change 11 months after the Food and Drug Administration took similar action in the United States.

Toronto-based drug safety researcher Dr. David Juurlink questions why it took Health Canada so much longer to act on this issue than its U.S. counterpart.

Juurlink says that when it comes to keeping the public abreast of drug safety issues relevant to millions of patients, there is no justification for a delay.

The changes alert consumers to the fact that use of the drugs increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes for people who are already at risk for the disease.

Health Canada says its review concluded that the increased risk appears to be mainly in people with pre-existing risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.

Those risk factors include having high levels of glucose or triglycerides, being obese or having high blood pressure.

Health Canada says it believes the benefits of the medication still outweigh the risks, but it is recommending doctors carefully monitor the use of statins by patients at risk of developing diabetes.

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