"What are statins and how do they work?
Statins (or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) are a class of drugs that reduce cholesterol in individuals who have dyslipidemia (abnormal fats in the blood) and thus are at risk for cardiovascular dise"...
Rare cases of rhabdomyolysis with acute renal failure secondary to myoglobinuria have been reported with pravastatin and other drugs in this class. A history of renal impairment may be a risk factor for the development of rhabdomyolysis. Such patients merit closer monitoring for skeletal muscle effects.
Uncomplicated myalgia has also been reported in pravastatin-treated patients [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. Myopathy, defined as muscle aching or muscle weakness in conjunction with increases in creatine phosphokinase (CPK) values to greater than 10 times the upper limit of normal (ULN), was rare ( < 0.1%) in pravastatin clinical trials. Myopathy should be considered in any patient with diffuse myalgias, muscle tenderness or weakness, and/or marked elevation of CPK. Predisposing factors include advanced age ( > 65), uncontrolled hypothyroidism, and renal impairment. Patients should be advised to report promptly unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness, particularly if accompanied by malaise or fever. Pravastatin therapy should be discontinued if markedly elevated CPK levels occur or myopathy is diagnosed or suspected. Pravastatin 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; major surgery; trauma; severe metabolic, endocrine, or electrolyte disorders; or uncontrolled epilepsy.
The risk of myopathy during treatment with statins is increased with concurrent therapy with either erythromycin, cyclosporine, niacin, or fibrates. However, neither myopathy nor significant increases in CPK levels have been observed in 3 reports involving a total of 100 post-transplant patients (24 renal and 76 cardiac) treated for up to 2 years concurrently with pravastatin 10 to 40 mg and cyclosporine. Some of these patients also received other concomitant immunosuppressive therapies. Further, in clinical trials involving small numbers of patients who were treated concurrently with pravastatin and niacin, there were no reports of myopathy. Also, myopathy was not reported in a trial of combination pravastatin (40 mg/day) and gemfibrozil (1200 mg/day), although 4 of 75 patients on the combination showed marked CPK elevations versus 1 of 73 patients receiving placebo. There was a trend toward more frequent CPK elevations and patient withdrawals due to musculoskeletal symptoms in the group receiving combined treatment as compared with the groups receiving placebo, gemfibrozil, or pravastatin monotherapy. The use of fibrates alone may occasionally be associated with myopathy. The benefit of further alterations in lipid levels by the combined use of PRAVACHOL with fibrates should be carefully weighed against the potential risks of this combination.
Cases of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, have been reported with pravastatin coadministered with colchicine, and caution should be exercised when prescribing pravastatin with colchicine [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Statins, like some other lipid-lowering therapies, have been associated with biochemical abnormalities of liver function. In 3 long-term (4.8-5.9 years), placebo-controlled clinical trials (WOS, LIPID, CARE), 19,592 subjects (19,768 randomized) were exposed to pravastatin or placebo [see Clinical Studies]. In an analysis of serum transaminase values (ALT, AST), incidences of marked abnormalities were compared between the pravastatin and placebo treatment groups; a marked abnormality was defined as a post-treatment test value greater than 3 times the upper limit of normal for subjects with pretreatment values less than or equal to the upper limit of normal, or 4 times the pretreatment value for subjects with pretreatment values greater than the upper limit of normal but less than 1.5 times the upper limit of normal. Marked abnormalities of ALT or AST occurred with similar low frequency ( ≤ 1.2%) in both treatment groups. Overall, clinical trial experience showed that liver function test abnormalities observed during pravastatin therapy were usually asymptomatic, not associated with cholestasis, and did not appear to be related to treatment duration. In a 320-patient placebo-controlled clinical trial, subjects with chronic ( > 6 months) stable liver disease, due primarily to hepatitis C or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, were treated with 80 mg pravastatin or placebo for up to 9 months. The primary safety endpoint was the proportion of subjects with at least one ALT ≥ 2 times the upper limit of normal for those with normal ALT ( ≤ the upper limit of normal) at baseline or a doubling of the baseline ALT for those with elevated ALT ( > the upper limit of normal) at baseline. By Week 36, 12 out of 160 (7.5%) subjects treated with pravastatin met the prespecified safety ALT endpoint compared to 20 out of 160 (12.5%) subjects receiving placebo. Conclusions regarding liver safety are limited since the study was not large enough to establish similarity between groups (with 95% confidence) in the rates of ALT elevation.
It is recommended that liver function tests be performed prior to the initiation of therapy and when clinically indicated.
Active liver disease or unexplained persistent transaminase elevations are contraindications to the use of pravastatin [see CONTRAINDICATIONS]. Caution should be exercised when pravastatin is administered to patients who have a recent ( < 6 months) history of liver disease, have signs that may suggest liver disease (e.g., unexplained aminotransferase elevations, jaundice), or are heavy users of alcohol.
There have been rare postmarketing reports of fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure in patients taking statins, including pravastatin. If serious liver injury with clinical symptoms and/or hyperbilirubinemia or jaundice occurs during treatment with PRAVACHOL, promptly interrupt therapy. If an alternate etiology is not found do not restart PRAVACHOL.
Statins interfere with cholesterol synthesis and lower circulating cholesterol levels and, as such, might theoretically blunt adrenal or gonadal steroid hormone production. Results of clinical trials with pravastatin in males and post-menopausal females were inconsistent with regard to possible effects of the drug on basal steroid hormone levels. In a study of 21 males, the mean testosterone response to human chorionic gonadotropin was significantly reduced (p < 0.004) after 16 weeks of treatment with 40 mg of pravastatin. However, the percentage of patients showing a ≥ 50% rise in plasma testosterone after human chorionic gonadotropin stimulation did not change significantly after therapy in these patients. The effects of statins on spermatogenesis and fertility have not been studied in adequate numbers of patients. The effects, if any, of pravastatin on the pituitary-gonadal axis in pre-menopausal females are unknown. Patients treated with pravastatin who display clinical evidence of endocrine dysfunction should be evaluated appropriately. Caution should also be exercised if a statin or other agent used to lower cholesterol levels is administered to patients also receiving other drugs (e.g., ketoconazole, spironolactone, cimetidine) that may diminish the levels or activity of steroid hormones.
In a placebo-controlled study of 214 pediatric patients with HeFH, of which 106 were treated with pravastatin (20 mg in the children aged 8-13 years and 40 mg in the adolescents aged 14-18 years) for 2 years, there were no detectable differences seen in any of the endocrine parameters (ACTH, cortisol, DHEAS, FSH, LH, TSH, estradiol [girls] or testosterone [boys]) relative to placebo. There were no detectable differences seen in height and weight changes, testicular volume changes, or Tanner score relative to placebo.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
In a 2-year study in rats fed pravastatin at doses of 10, 30, or 100 mg/kg body weight, there was an increased incidence of hepatocellular carcinomas in males at the highest dose (p < 0.01). These effects in rats were observed at approximately 12 times the human dose (HD) of 80 mg based on body surface area (mg/m²) and at approximately 4 times the HD, based on AUC.
In a 2-year study in mice fed pravastatin at doses of 250 and 500 mg/kg/day, there was an increased incidence of hepatocellular carcinomas in males and females at both 250 and 500 mg/kg/day (p < 0.0001). At these doses, lung adenomas in females were increased (p=0.013). These effects in mice were observed at approximately 15 times (250 mg/kg/day) and 23 times (500 mg/kg/day) the HD of 80 mg, based on AUC. In another 2-year study in mice with doses up to 100 mg/kg/day (producing drug exposures approximately 2 times the HD of 80 mg, based on AUC), there were no drug-induced tumors.
No evidence of mutagenicity was observed in vitro, with or without rat-liver metabolic activation, in the following studies: microbial mutagen tests, using mutant strains of Salmonella typhimurium or Escherichia coli; a forward mutation assay in L5178Y TK +/- mouse lymphoma cells; a chromosomal aberration test in hamster cells; and a gene conversion assay using Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In addition, there was no evidence of mutagenicity in either a dominant lethal test in mice or a micronucleus test in mice.
In a fertility study in adult rats with daily doses up to 500 mg/kg, pravastatin did not produce any adverse effects on fertility or general reproductive performance.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category X
Safety in pregnant women has not been established. Available data in women inadvertently taking pravastatin while pregnant do not suggest any adverse clinical events. However, there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Therefore, it is not known whether pravastatin can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman or can affect reproductive capacity. Pravastatin should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk to the fetus and patients have been informed of the potential hazards.
Rare reports of congenital anomalies have been received following intrauterine exposure to other statins. In a review2 of approximately 100 prospectively followed pregnancies in women exposed to simvastatin or lovastatin, 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 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 PRAVACHOL during pregnancy [see CONTRAINDICATIONS], treatment should be immediately discontinued as soon as pregnancy is recognized. PRAVACHOL should be administered to women of childbearing potential only when such patients are highly unlikely to conceive and have been informed of the potential hazards.
Pravastatin was neither embryolethal nor teratogenic in rats at doses up to 1000 mg/kg daily or in rabbits at doses of up to 50 mg/kg daily. These doses resulted in 10 times (rabbit) or 120 times (rat) the human exposure at 80 mg/day maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) based on surface area (mg/m²).
In pregnant rats given oral gavage doses of 4, 20, 100, 500, and 1000 mg/kg/day from gestation days 7 through 17 (organogenesis) increased mortality of offspring and skeletal anomalies were observed at 100 mg/kg/day systemic exposure, 10 times the human exposure at 80 mg/day MRHD based on body surface area (mg/m²).
In pregnant rats given oral gavage doses of 10, 100, and 1000 mg/kg/day from gestation day 17 through lactation day 21 (weaning) increased mortality of offspring and developmental delays were observed at 100 mg/kg/day systemic exposure, 12 times the human exposure at 80 mg/day MRHD based on body surface area (mg/m²).
A small amount of pravastatin is excreted in human breast milk. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, women taking PRAVACHOL should not nurse [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].
Pravastatin crosses the placenta and is found in fetal tissue at 30% maternal plasma levels following a single 20 mg/kg dose given to pregnant rats on gestation day 18. Similar studies in lactating rats indicate secretion of pravastatin into breast milk at 0.2 to 6.5 times higher levels than maternal plasma at exposures equivalent to 2 times human exposure at the MRHD.
The safety and effectiveness of PRAVACHOL in children and adolescents from 8 to 18 years of age have been evaluated in a placebo-controlled study of 2 years duration. Patients treated with pravastatin had an adverse experience profile generally similar to that of patients treated with placebo with influenza and headache commonly reported in both treatment groups. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS.] Doses greater than 40 mg have not been studied in this population. Children and adolescent females of childbearing potential should be counseled on appropriate contraceptive methods while on pravastatin therapy [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and Use in Specific Populations]. For dosing information [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION.]
Double-blind, placebo-controlled pravastatin studies in children less than 8 years of age have not been conducted.
Two secondary prevention trials with pravastatin (CARE and LIPID) included a total of 6593 subjects treated with pravastatin 40 mg for periods ranging up to 6 years. Across these 2 studies, 36.1% of pravastatin subjects were aged 65 and older and 0.8% were aged 75 and older. The beneficial effect of pravastatin in elderly subjects in reducing cardiovascular events and in modifying lipid profiles was similar to that seen in younger subjects. The adverse event profile in the elderly was similar to that in the overall population. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses to pravastatin between elderly and younger patients.
Mean pravastatin AUCs are slightly (25%-50%) higher in elderly subjects than in healthy young subjects, but mean maximum plasma concentration (Cmax), time to maximum plasma concentration (Tmax), and half-life (t½) values are similar in both age groups and substantial accumulation of pravastatin would not be expected in the elderly [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
Since advanced age ( ≥ 65 years) is a predisposing factor for myopathy, PRAVACHOL should be prescribed with caution in the elderly [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia
Pravastatin has not been evaluated in patients with rare homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia. In this group of patients, it has been reported that statins are less effective because the patients lack functional LDL receptors.
2. Manson JM, Freyssinges C, Ducrocq MB, Stephenson WP. Postmarketing surveillance of lovastatin and simvastatin exposure during pregnancy. Reprod Toxicol. 1996;10(6):439-446.
Last reviewed on RxList: 3/14/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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