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AstraZeneca denies Crestor linked to any deaths

AstraZeneca denies Crestor linked to any deaths
Reuters, 05.19.04, 11:49 AM ET (Souce:

LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca Plc denied on Wednesday that a patient taking its recently launched cholesterol drug Crestor had died of a muscle-damaging condition linked to the medicine.

The Anglo-Swedish company, responding to allegations by U.S. consumer group Public Citizen that the death was related to the drug, said the 39-year-old had suffered an acute heart attack and there was no evidence of rhabdomyolysis.

Public Citizen called on Monday for Crestor to be banned, based on its safety record.

AstraZeneca said in a statement: "To date, there have been no fatal rhabdomyolysis cases caused by Crestor."

Controversy about Crestor's safety was rekindled this week when AstraZeneca warned British doctors to stick to the label and not start patients on high doses of the product following four cases of rhabdomyolysis.

AstraZeneca argues the rate of adverse incidents with Crestor is in line with the side effect profile seen among competing statin drugs and reports of rhabdomyolysis have been very rare at around 0.01 percent.

Crestor, which is fighting market leader Lipitor from Pfizer Inc (nyse: PFE - news - people) and other established statins, is a key product for AstraZeneca which analysts believe could eventually generate annual sales of $3 billion or more.

Copyright 2004, Reuters News Service