"BOSTON, MA â€” A recent meta-analysis that puts certain nonstatin therapies that work via the same mechanism on par with statins for reducing cholesterol and cardiovascular events is drawing mixed reviews from key opinion leaders.
Skeletal Muscle Effects
Cases of myopathy and rhabdomyolys is with acute renal failure secondary to myoglobinuria have been reported with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, including Altoprev®. These risks can occur at any dose level, but increase in a dose-dependent manner. Predisposing factors for myopathy include advanced age ( ≥ 65 years), female gender, renal impairment, and inadequately treated hypothyroidism. In a clinical study (EXCEL) in which patients were carefully monitored and some interacting drugs were excluded, there was one case of myopathy among 4933 patients randomized to lovastatin 20-40 mg daily for 48 weeks, and 4 among 1649 patients randomized to 80 mg daily.
There have been rare reports of immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM), an autoimmune myopathy, associated with statin use. IMNM is characterized by: proximal muscle weakness and elevated serum creatine kinase, which persist despite discontinuation of statin treatment; muscle biopsy showing necrotizing myopathy without significant inflammation; improvement with immunosuppressive agents.
All patients starting therapy with Altoprev®, or whose dose of Altoprev® is being increased, should be advised of the risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis , and told to report promptly any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness particularly if accompanied by malaise or fever or if muscle signs and symptoms persist after discontinuing Altoprev®. Altoprev therapy should be discontinued immediately if myopathy is diagnosed or suspected.
Altoprev® therapy should be discontinued if markedly elevated creatine kinase (CK) levels occur or myopathy is diagnosed or suspected. Altoprev® therapy should also be temporarily withheld in any patient experiencing an acute or serious condition predisposing to the development of renal failure secondary to rhabdomyolysis, e.g., sepsis; hypotension; dehydration; major surgery; trauma; severe metabolic, endocrine, and electrolyte disorders; or uncontrolled epilepsy.
- Drug Interactions that can cause skeletal muscle effects
Strong CYP3A Inhibitors: The risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis is increased by high levels of statin activity in plasma. Lovastatin is metabolized by the cytochrome P450 isoform 3A4. Certain drugs which inhibit this metabolic pathway can raise the plasma levels of lovastatin and may increase the risk of myopathy. Co-administration of these drugs with Altoprev® is contraindicated. If treatment with strong CYP3A inhibitors is unavoidable, therapy with Altoprev® should be suspended during the course of treatment (see CONTRAINDICATIONS; CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY; DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Erythromycin: Co-administration of erythromycin with Altoprev is contraindicated. If treatment with erythromycin is unavoidable, therapy with Altoprev should be suspended during the course of treatment (see CONTRAINDICATIONS; DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Gemfibrozil: Avoid the combined use of Altoprev with gemfibrozil.
Other lipid-lowering drugs (other fibrates, or lipid-lowering doses ( ≥ 1 g/day) of niacin: Use caution when prescribing other fibrates or lipid-lowering doses ( ≥ 1 g/day) of niacin with Altoprev, as these agents can cause myopathy when given alone and the risk is increased when they arecoadministered with Altoprev. Carefully weigh the expected benefit of further alterations in lipid levels by the combined use of lovastatin with other fibrates or niacin against the potential risks of these combinations [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Cyclosporine: Avoid the combined use of Altoprev with cyclosporine [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Danazol, diltiazem, dronedarone or verapamil with higher doses of lovastatin: Do not exceed 20 mg of Altoprev daily in patients receiving concomitant therapy with danazol, diltiazem, dronedarone or verapamil. Weigh carefully the benefits of the use of Altoprev in patients receiving danazol, diltiazem, dronedarone or verapamil against the risks of these combinations [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Amiodarone: Do not exceed 40 mg of Altoprev daily in patients receiving concomitant therapy with amiodarone. Avoid the combined use of Altoprev at doses exceeding 40 mg daily with amiodarone unless the clinical benefit is likely to outweigh the increased risk of myopathy. The concomitant use of higher doses of a closely related member of the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor class with amiodarone increased the risk of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Colchicine: There have been cases of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, reported in patients receiving lovastatin coadministered with colchicine. Use caution when prescribing Altoprev with colchicine [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Ranolazine: Concomitant use of ranolazine and Altoprev may increase the risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis. Consider dose adjustment of Altoprev if coadministering with ranolazine [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Prescribing recommendations for interacting agents are summarized in Table 1.
Table 1 : Drug Interactions Associated with Increased
Risk of Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis
|Interacting Agents||Prescribing Recommendations|
|Strong CYP3A inhibitors (e.g., ketoconazole, itraconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, clarithromycin, telithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors, boceprevir, telaprevir, and nefazodone), Erythromycin||Contraindicated with lovastatin|
|Gemfibrozil Cyclosporine||Avoid with lovastatin|
|Diltiazem Dronedarone||Do not exceed 20 mg lovastatin daily|
|Amiodarone||Do not exceed 40 mg lovastatin daily|
|Grapefruit juice||Avoid grapefruit juice|
Liver Enzyme Abnormalities
Persistent increases (to more than 3 times the upper limit of normal) in serum transaminases occurred in 1.9% of adult patients who received lovastatin for at least one year in early clinical trials [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. When the drug was interrupted or discontinued in these patients, the transaminase levels usually fell slowly to pretreatment levels.
It is recommended that liver enzyme tests be obtained prior to initiating therapy with Altoprev and repeated as clinically indicated. There have been rare postmarketing reports of fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure in patients taking statins, including lovastatin. If serious liver injury with clinical symptoms and/or hyperbilirubinemia or jaundice occurs during treatment with Altoprev, promptly interrupt therapy. If an alternate etiology is not found, do not restart Altoprev.
The drug should be used with caution in patients who consume substantial quantities of alcohol and/or have a history of chronic liver disease. Active liver disease or unexplained transaminase elevations are contraindications to the use of Altoprev®.
In controlled clinical trials (467 patients treated with Altoprev® and 329 patients treated with lovastatin immediate-release) no meaningful differences in transaminase elevations between the two treatments were observed.
In the EXCEL study [see Clinical Studies], the incidence of persistent increases in serum transaminases over 48 weeks was 0.1% for placebo, 0.1% at 20 mg/day, 0.9% at 40 mg/day, and 1.5% at 80 mg/day in patients on lovastatin. However, in post-marketing experience with lovastatin immediaterelease, symptomatic liver disease has been reported rarely at all dosages [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].
In AFCAPS/TexCAPS, the number of participants with consecutive elevations of either alanine aminotransferase (ALT) or aspartate aminotransferase (AST) ( > 3 times the upper limit of normal), over a median of 5.1 years of follow-up, was not significantly different between the lovastatin immediaterelease and placebo groups [18 (0.6%) vs. 11 (0.3%)]. Elevated transaminases resulted in discontinuation of 6 (0.2%) participants from therapy in the lovastatin immediate-release group (n=3,304) and 4 (0.1%) in the placebo group (n=3,301).
Increases in HbA1c and fasting serum glucose levels have been reported with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, including lovastatin.
HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors interfere with cholesterol synthesis and as such might theoretically blunt adrenal and/or gonadal steroid production. Results of clinical trials with drugs in this class have been inconsistent with regard to drug effects on basal and reserve steroid levels. However, clinical studies have shown that lovastatin does not reduce basal plasma cortisol concentration or impair adrenal reserve, and does not reduce basal plasma testosterone concentration. Another HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor has been shown to reduce the plasma testosterone response to HCG. The effects of HMGCoA reductase inhibitors on male fertility have not been studied in adequate numbers of male patients. The effects, if any, on the pituitary-gonadal axis in premenopausal women are unknown. Patients treated with lovastatin who develop clinical evidence of endocrine dysfunction should be evaluated appropriately. Caution should also be exercised if an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor or other agent used to lower cholesterol levels is administered to patients also receiving other drugs (e.g., spironolactone, cimetidine) that may decrease the levels or activity of endogenous steroid hormones.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
In a 21-month carcinogenic study in mice with lovastatin immediate-release, there was a statistically significant increase in the incidence of hepatocellular carcinomas and adenomas in both males and females at 500 mg/kg/day. This dose produced a total plasma drug exposure 3 to 4 times that of humans given the highest recommended dose of lovastatin (drug exposure was measured as total HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity in extracted plasma). Tumor increases were not seen at 20 and 100 mg/kg/day, doses that produced drug exposures of 0.3 to 2 times that of humans at the 80 mg/day lovastatin immediate-release dose. A statistically significant increase in pulmonary adenomas was seen in female mice at approximately 4 times the human drug exposure. [Although mice were given 300 times the human dose (HD) on a mg/kg body weight basis, plasma levels of total inhibitory activity were only 4 times higher in mice than in humans given 80 mg of lovastatin immediate-release].
There was an increase in incidence of papilloma in the non-glandular mucosa of the stomach of mice beginning at exposures of 1 to 2 times that of humans given lovastatin immediate-release. The glandular mucosa was not affected. The human stomach contains only glandular mucosa.
In a 24-month carcinogenicity study in rats, there was a positive dose response relationship for hepatocellular carcinogenicity in males at drug exposures between 2-7 times that of human exposure at 80 mg/day lovastatin immediate-release (doses in rats were 5, 30 and 180 mg/kg/day).
An increased incidence of thyroid neoplasms in rats appears to be a response that has been seen with other HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.
A chemically similar drug in this class was administered to mice for 72 weeks at 25, 100, and 400 mg/kg body weight, which resulted in mean serum drug levels approximately 3, 15, and 33 times higher than the mean human serum drug concentration (as total inhibitory activity) after a 40 mg oral dose of lovastatin immediate-release. Liver carcinomas were significantly increased in high-dose females and mid- and high-dose males, with a maximum incidence of 90 percent in males. The incidence of adenomas of the liver was significantly increased in mid- and high-dose females. Drug treatment also significantly increased the incidence of lung adenomas in mid- and high-dose males and females. Adenomas of the Harderian gland (a gland of the eye of rodents) were significantly higher in high dose mice than in controls.
No evidence of mutagenicity was observed with lovastatin immediate-release in a microbial mutagen test using mutant strains of Salmonella typhimurium with or without rat or mouse liver metabolic activation. In addition, no evidence of damage to genetic material was noted in an in vitro alkaline elution assay using rat or mouse hepatocytes, a V-79 mammalian cell forward mutation study, an in vitro chromosome aberration study in CHO cells, or an in vivo chromosomal aberration assay in mouse bone marrow.
Drug-related testicular atrophy, decreased spermatogenesis, spermatocytic degeneration and giant cell formation were seen in dogs starting at 20 mg/kg/day with lovastatin immediate-release. Similar findings were seen with another drug in this class. No drug-related effects on fertility were found in studies with lovastatin in rats. However, in studies with a similar drug in this class, there was decreased fertility in male rats treated for 34 weeks at 25 mg/kg body weight, although this effect was not observed in a subsequent fertility study when this same dose was administered for 11 weeks (the entire cycle of spermatogenesis, including epididymal maturation). In rats treated with this same reductase inhibitor at 180 mg/kg/day, seminiferous tubule degeneration (necrosis and loss of spermatogenic epithelium) was observed. No microscopic changes were observed in the testes from rats of either study. The clinical significance of these findings is unclear.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category X
Safety in pregnant women has not been established. Lovastatin immediate-release has been shown to produce skeletal malformations at plasma levels 40 times the human exposure (for mouse fetus) and 80 times the human exposure (for rat fetus) based on mg/m² surface area (doses were 800 mg/kg/day). No drug-induced changes were seen in either species at multiples of 8 times (rat) or 4 times (mouse) based on surface area. No evidence of malformations was noted in rabbits at exposures up to 3 times the human exposure (dose of 15 mg/kg/day, highest tolerated dose of lovastatin immediate-release).
Rare reports of congenital anomalies have been received following intrauterine exposure to HMGCoA reductase inhibitors. In a review2 of approximately 100 prospectively followed pregnancies in women exposed to lovastatin immediate-release or another structurally related HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, the incidences of congenital anomalies, spontaneous abortions and fetal deaths/stillbirths did not exceed what would be expected in the general population. The number of cases is adequate only to exclude a 3 to 4-fold increase in congenital anomalies over the background incidence. In 89% of the prospectively followed pregnancies, drug treatment was initiated prior to pregnancy and was discontinued at some point in the first trimester when pregnancy was identified. As safety in pregnant women has not been established and there is no apparent benefit to therapy with Altoprev® during pregnancy [see CONTRAINDICATIONS], treatment should be immediately discontinued as soon as pregnancy is recognized. Altoprev® should be administered to women of child-bearing potential only when such patients are highly unlikely to conceive and have been informed of the potential hazard.
It is not known whether lovastatin is excreted in human milk. Because a small amount of another drug in this class is excreted in human breast milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, women taking Altoprev® should not nurse their infants [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established. Because pediatric patients are not likely to benefit from cholesterol lowering for at least a decade and because experience with this drug is limited (no studies in subjects below the age of 20 years), treatment of pediatric patients with Altoprev® is not recommended at this time.
Of the 467 patients who received Altoprev® in controlled clinical studies, 18% were 65 years and older. Of the 297 patients who received Altoprev® in uncontrolled clinical studies, 22% were 65 years and older. No overall differences in effectiveness or safety were observed between these patients and other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in response between the elderly and younger patients, but greater sensitivity of some older individuals cannot be ruled out. Thus, lower starting doses of Altoprev® are recommended for elderly patients. [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
In pharmacokinetic studies with lovastatin immediate-release, the mean plasma level of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity was shown to be approximately 45% higher in elderly patients between 70- 78 years of age compared with patients between 18-30 years of age; however, clinical study experience in the elderly indicates that dosage adjustment based on this age-related pharmacokinetic difference is not needed. In the two large clinical studies conducted with lovastatin immediate-release (EXCEL and AFCAPS/TexCAPS), 21% (3094/14850) of patients were ≥ 65 years of age. Lipidlowering efficacy with lovastatin was at least as great in elderly patients compared with younger patients, and there were no overall differences in safety over the 20 to 80 mg dosage range [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
In a study of patients with severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance 10-30 mL/min), the plasma concentrations of total inhibitors after a single dose of lovastatin were approximately two-fold higher than those in healthy volunteers. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 12/12/2016
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