"I was requested to take Zetia for cholesterol control, of course," Charles says. "So I did start taking it. I'm not sure how much I took but I took it for a week and a half, two weeks at most. Shortly after I started taking it, I started developing muscle pains. The muscle pains increased to the point where I got the pains in both my arms and my legs. It got so painful that for three or four days I could hardly walk. My arms were so touchy and painful that I could hardly change my socks. It's one of those things that you like to do for yourself, but I just couldn't handle changing my socks. It was uncomfortable. Actually, it was a lot more than uncomfortable."
Although Charles did not take Zetia with statins, he had only just stopped taking the statins prior to beginning Zetia. Patients who take Zetia with statins are at an increased risk of side effects including liver problems and severe muscle pains.
"I think they gave me some super Aspirin for pain, which didn't do much," Charles says. "Eventually I was referred to a rheumatologist. By that time, the pains in my legs had decreased a little bit, my hands and fingers were swollen and looked like a package of weenies. They were sore but not unbearable. My arms were still sore and I didn't want to put up with it."
The rheumatologist put Charles on some steroids for six months, which relieved his pain. While he took the steroids, the pain gradually diminished and became less constant, to the point that the pain was manageable.
"After six months of steroids the pains were at a tolerable level and haven't been too bad since," Charles says. "But the pains are really strange, they move around. Some times it's in the leg and may last a few seconds or a half hour. The next day it's the arm that hurts. Again, it may last a few seconds or a lot longer.
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Charles started taking Zetia in January 2006, and says it was only a couple of days before his muscle pains began. It was another four months of constant, substantial pain before doctors put him on steroids. Now, a year after he stopped taking steroids, Charles still feels some pain, although it is a lot less than it used to be.
"Nowadays, just a very little bit of pain," Charles says. "Most of the time there's a little there, but it's at least tolerable.
"I think that this sort of thing should be publicized," Charles says. "There doesn't seem to be enough information out on this sort of thing. I remember reading that Zetia was approved over the objection of their [the FDA's] researchers. I'm really annoyed about the whole thing."