"Feb. 28, 2012 -- Memory loss, confusion, high blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes are possible side effects of the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, the FDA warns.
Brand name and generic versions of statin drugs must c"...
The following serious adverse reactions are discussed in greater detail in other sections of the label:
- Rhabdomyolysis and myopathy [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Liver enzyme abnormalities [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
Clinical Trial Adverse Experiences
Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, the adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical studies of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in clinical practice.
In the LIPITOR placebo-controlled clinical trial database of 16,066 patients (8755 LIPITOR vs. 7311 placebo; age range 10–93 years, 39% women, 91% Caucasians, 3% Blacks, 2% Asians, 4% other) with a median treatment duration of 53 weeks, 9.7% of patients on LIPITOR and 9.5% of the patients on placebo discontinued due to adverse reactions regardless of causality. The five most common adverse reactions in patients treated with LIPITOR that led to treatment discontinuation and occurred at a rate greater than placebo were: myalgia (0.7%), diarrhea (0.5%), nausea (0.4%), alanine aminotransferase increase (0.4%), and hepatic enzyme increase (0.4%).
The most commonly reported adverse reactions (incidence ≥ 2% and greater than placebo) regardless of causality, in patients treated with LIPITOR in placebo controlled trials (n=8755) were: nasopharyngitis (8.3%), arthralgia (6.9%), diarrhea (6.8%), pain in extremity (6.0%), and urinary tract infection (5.7%).
Table 2 summarizes the frequency of clinical adverse reactions, regardless of causality, reported in ≥ 2% and at a rate greater than placebo in patients treated with LIPITOR (n=8755), from seventeen placebo-controlled trials.
Table 2: Clinical adverse reactions occurring in ≥ 2% in patents treated with any dose of LIPITOR and at an incidence greater than
placebo regardless of causality (% of patients).
|Adverse Reaction*||Any dose
|Pain in extremity||6.0||8.5||3.7||9.3||3.1||5.9|
|Urinary tract infection||5.7||6.9||6.4||8.0||4.1||5.6|
|* Adverse Reaction ≥ 2% in any dose greater than placebo|
Other Adverse Reactions Reported In Placebo-Controlled Studies Include
Body as a whole: malaise, pyrexia; Digestive system: abdominal discomfort, eructation, flatulence, hepatitis, cholestasis; Musculoskeletal system: musculoskeletal pain, muscle fatigue, neck pain, joint swelling; Metabolic and nutritional system: transaminases increase, liver function test abnormal, blood alkaline phosphatase increase, creatine phosphokinase increase, hyperglycemia; Nervous system: nightmare; Respiratory system: epistaxis; Skin and appendages: urticaria; Special senses: vision blurred, tinnitus; Urogenital system: white blood cells urine positive.
Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial (ASCOT)
In ASCOT [see Clinical Studies] involving 10,305 participants (age range 40–80 years, 19% women; 94.6% Caucasians, 2.6% Africans, 1.5% South Asians, 1.3% mixed/other) treated with LIPITOR 10 mg daily (n=5,168) or placebo (n=5,137), the safety and tolerability profile of the group treated with LIPITOR was comparable to that of the group treated with placebo during a median of 3.3 years of follow-up.
Collaborative Atorvastatin Diabetes Study (CARDS)
In CARDS [see Clinical Studies] involving 2,838 subjects (age range 39–77 years, 32% women; 94.3% Caucasians, 2.4% South Asians, 2.3% Afro-Caribbean, 1.0% other) with type 2 diabetes treated with LIPITOR 10 mg daily (n=1,428) or placebo (n=1,410), there was no difference in the overall frequency of adverse reactions or serious adverse reactions between the treatment groups during a median follow-up of 3.9 years. No cases of rhabdomyolysis were reported.
Treating to New Targets Study (TNT)
In TNT [see Clinical Studies] involving 10,001 subjects (age range 29–78 years, 19% women; 94.1% Caucasians, 2.9% Blacks, 1.0% Asians, 2.0% other) with clinically evident CHD treated with LIPITOR 10 mg daily (n=5006) or LIPITOR 80 mg daily (n=4995), there were more serious adverse reactions and discontinuations due to adverse reactions in the high-dose atorvastatin group (92, 1.8%; 497, 9.9%, respectively) as compared to the low-dose group (69, 1.4%; 404, 8.1%, respectively) during a median follow-up of 4.9 years. Persistent transaminase elevations ( ≥ 3 x ULN twice within 4–10 days) occurred in 62 (1.3%) individuals with atorvastatin 80 mg and in nine (0.2%) individuals with atorvastatin 10 mg. Elevations of CK ( ≥ 10 x ULN) were low overall, but were higher in the high-dose atorvastatin treatment group (13, 0.3%) compared to the low-dose atorvastatin group (6, 0.1%).
Incremental Decrease in Endpoints through Aggressive Lipid Lowering Study (IDEAL)
In IDEAL [see Clinical Studies] involving 8,888 subjects (age range 26–80 years, 19% women; 99.3% Caucasians, 0.4% Asians, 0.3% Blacks, 0.04% other) treated with LIPITOR 80 mg/day (n=4439) or simvastatin 20–40 mg daily (n=4449), there was no difference in the overall frequency of adverse reactions or serious adverse reactions between the treatment groups during a median follow-up of 4.8 years.
Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL)
In SPARCL involving 4731 subjects (age range 21–92 years, 40% women; 93.3% Caucasians, 3.0% Blacks, 0.6% Asians, 3.1% other) without clinically evident CHD but with a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) within the previous 6 months treated with LIPITOR 80 mg (n=2365) or placebo (n=2366) for a median follow-up of 4.9 years, there was a higher incidence of persistent hepatic transaminase elevations ( ≥ 3 x ULN twice within 4–10 days) in the atorvastatin group (0.9%) compared to placebo (0.1%). Elevations of CK ( > 10 x ULN) were rare, but were higher in the atorvastatin group (0.1%) compared to placebo (0.0%). Diabetes was reported as an adverse reaction in 144 subjects (6.1%) in the atorvastatin group and 89 subjects (3.8%) in the placebo group [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
In a post-hoc analysis, LIPITOR 80 mg reduced the incidence of ischemic stroke (218/2365, 9.2% vs. 274/2366, 11.6%) and increased the incidence of hemorrhagic stroke (55/2365, 2.3% vs. 33/2366, 1.4%) compared to placebo. The incidence of fatal hemorrhagic stroke was similar between groups (17 LIPITOR vs. 18 placebo). The incidence of non-fatal hemorrhagic strokes was significantly greater in the atorvastatin group (38 non-fatal hemorrhagic strokes) as compared to the placebo group (16 non-fatal hemorrhagic strokes). Subjects who entered the study with a hemorrhagic stroke appeared to be at increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke [7 (16%) LIPITOR vs. 2 (4%) placebo].
There were no significant differences between the treatment groups for all-cause mortality: 216 (9.1%) in the LIPITOR 80 mg/day group vs. 211 (8.9%) in the placebo group. The proportions of subjects who experienced cardiovascular death were numerically smaller in the LIPITOR 80 mg group (3.3%) than in the placebo group (4.1%). The proportions of subjects who experienced non-cardiovascular death were numerically larger in the LIPITOR 80 mg group (5.0%) than in the placebo group (4.0%).
The following adverse reactions have been identified during postapproval use of LIPITOR. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.
Adverse reactions associated with LIPITOR therapy reported since market introduction, that are not listed above, regardless of causality assessment, include the following: anaphylaxis, angioneurotic edema, bullous rashes (including erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis), rhabdomyolysis, fatigue, tendon rupture, fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure, dizziness, depression, peripheral neuropathy, and pancreatitis.
There have been rare reports of immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy associated with statin use [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
There have been rare postmarketing reports of cognitive impairment (e.g., memory loss, forgetfulness, amnesia, memory impairment, confusion) associated with statin use. These cognitive issues have been reported for all statins. The reports are generally nonserious, and reversible upon statin discontinuation, with variable times to symptom onset (1 day to years) and symptom resolution (median of 3 weeks).
Pediatric Patients (ages 10-17 years)
In a 26-week controlled study in boys and postmenarchal girls (n=140, 31% female; 92% Caucasians, 1.6% Blacks, 1.6% Asians, 4.8% other), the safety and tolerability profile of LIPITOR 10 to 20 mg daily was generally similar to that of placebo [see Clinical Studies and Use in Special Populations, Pediatric Use].
Read the Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects
The risk of myopathy during treatment with statins is increased with concurrent administration of fibric acid derivatives, lipid-modifying doses of niacin, cyclosporine, or strong CYP 3A4 inhibitors (e.g., clarithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors, and itraconazole) [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Skeletal Muscle and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
Strong Inhibitors Of CYP 3A4
LIPITOR is metabolized by cytochrome P450 3A4. Concomitant administration of LIPITOR with strong inhibitors of CYP 3A4 can lead to increases in plasma concentrations of atorvastatin. The extent of interaction and potentiation of effects depend on the variability of effect on CYP 3A4.
Atorvastatin AUC was significantly increased with concomitant administration of LIPITOR 80 mg with clarithromycin (500 mg twice daily) compared to that of LIPITOR alone [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Therefore, in patients taking clarithromycin, caution should be used when the LIPITOR dose exceeds 20 mg [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Skeletal Muscle and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Combination of Protease Inhibitors
Atorvastatin AUC was significantly increased with concomitant administration of LIPITOR with several combinations of HIV protease inhibitors, as well as with the hepatitis C protease inhibitor telaprevir, compared to that of LIPITOR alone [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Therefore, in patients taking the HIV protease inhibitor tipranavir plus ritonavir, or the hepatitis C protease inhibitor telaprevir, concomitant use of LIPITOR should be avoided. In patients taking the HIV protease inhibitor lopinavir plus ritonavir, caution should be used when prescribing LIPITOR and the lowest dose necessary should be used. In patients taking the HIV protease inhibitors saquinavir plus ritonavir, darunavir plus ritonavir, fosamprenavir, or fosamprenavir plus ritonavir, the dose of LIPITOR should not exceed 20 mg and should be used with caution [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Skeletal Muscle and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. In patients taking the HIV protease inhibitor nelfinavir or the hepatitis C protease inhibitor boceprevir, the dose of LIPITOR should not exceed 40 mg and close clinical monitoring is recommended.
Atorvastatin AUC was significantly increased with concomitant administration of LIPITOR 40 mg and itraconazole 200 mg [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Therefore, in patients taking itraconazole, caution should be used when the LIPITOR dose exceeds 20 mg [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Skeletal Muscle and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Contains one or more components that inhibit CYP 3A4 and can increase plasma concentrations of atorvastatin, especially with excessive grapefruit juice consumption ( > 1.2 liters per day).
Atorvastatin and atorvastatin-metabolites are substrates of the OATP1B1 transporter. Inhibitors of the OATP1B1 (e.g., cyclosporine) can increase the bioavailability of atorvastatin. Atorvastatin AUC was significantly increased with concomitant administration of LIPITOR 10 mg and cyclosporine 5.2 mg/kg/day compared to that of LIPITOR alone [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. The co-administration of LIPITOR with cyclosporine should be avoided [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Skeletal Muscle].
Due to an increased risk of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis when HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors are co-administered with gemfibrozil, concomitant administration of LIPITOR with gemfibrozil should be avoided [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Because it is known that the risk of myopathy during treatment with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors is increased with concurrent administration of other fibrates, LIPITOR should be administered with caution when used concomitantly with other fibrates [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Rifampin Or Other Inducers Of Cytochrome P450 3A4
Concomitant administration of LIPITOR with inducers of cytochrome P450 3A4 (e.g., efavirenz, rifampin) can lead to variable reductions in plasma concentrations of atorvastatin. Due to the dual interaction mechanism of rifampin, simultaneous co-administration of LIPITOR with rifampin is recommended, as delayed administration of LIPITOR after administration of rifampin has been associated with a significant reduction in atorvastatin plasma concentrations.
When multiple doses of LIPITOR and digoxin were co-administered, steady state plasma digoxin concentrations increased by approximately 20%. Patients taking digoxin should be monitored appropriately.
Co-administration of LIPITOR and an oral contraceptive increased AUC values for norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. These increases should be considered when selecting an oral contraceptive for a woman taking LIPITOR.
LIPITOR had no clinically significant effect on prothrombin time when administered to patients receiving chronic warfarin treatment.
Cases of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, have been reported with atorvastatin co-administered with colchicine, and caution should be exercised when prescribing atorvastatin with colchicine.
Read the Lipitor Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions
Last reviewed on RxList: 6/4/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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