Onus on pharmacists: drug company



PFIZER Australia, which distributes Lipitor, said consumer medicine information should be made available by all pharmacists.

That information included information about the possible side effects associated with use of the drug.

They included swelling of the face, lips, mouth, throat or neck; unexpected muscle pain, tenderness or weakness not caused by exercise; tingling in the hands or feet; a rash or itching.

"These may be serious side effects requiring urgent medical attention. Serious side effects are rare," the consumer medicine information document says.

"Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. Tell your doctor if you notice anything else that is making you feel unwell.

"Do not be alarmed by the list of possible side effects. You may not experience any of them."

The Pfizer media manager, Craig Regan, said the pharmaceutical industry provided a printer to all pharmacists so they could provide the product information to all consumers.

"I would urge anyone who suffers a side effect to go back to their GP," he said.

The Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing said Lipitor, otherwise known as atorvastatin, was a medicine used to treat high cholesterol and to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in those at high risk. As with all medicines, Lipitor has risks associated with its use as well as benefits.

"In particular, statins, the class of medicine which includes Lipitor, can cause injury to muscles and nerves in some people," it said.

It said the risks should be outlined by the prescribing medical professional or pharmacist.



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