September 24, 2016
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"June 9, 2011 -- The FDA today tightened its rules on who should take the highest approved dose of the statin drug simvastatin.

Simvastatin, which lowers LDL "bad" cholesterol, is sold under the brand name Zocor and as a generic drug. "...



Side Effects


The following serious adverse reactions are discussed in greater detail in other sections of the label:

Clinical Trials Experience


Because clinical studies are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical studies of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical studies of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

In the VYTORIN (ezetimibe/simvastatin) placebo-controlled clinical trials database of 1420 patients (age range 20-83 years, 52% women, 87% Caucasians, 3% Blacks, 5% Hispanics, 3% Asians) with a median treatment duration of 27 weeks, 5% of patients on VYTORIN and 2.2% of patients on placebo discontinued due to adverse reactions.

The most common adverse reactions in the group treated with VYTORIN that led to treatment discontinuation and occurred at a rate greater than placebo were:

  • Increased ALT (0.9%)
  • Myalgia (0.6%)
  • Increased AST (0.4%)
  • Back pain (0.4%)

The most commonly reported adverse reactions (incidence ≥ 2% and greater than placebo) in controlled clinical trials were: headache (5.8%), increased ALT (3.7%), myalgia (3.6%), upper respiratory tract infection (3.6%), and diarrhea (2.8%).

VYTORIN has been evaluated for safety in more than 10,189 patients in clinical trials.

Table 2 summarizes the frequency of clinical adverse reactions reported in ≥ 2% of patients treated with VYTORIN (n=1420) and at an incidence greater than placebo, regardless of causality assessment, from four placebo-controlled trials.

Table 2*: Clinical Adverse Reactions Occurring in ≥ 2% of Patients Treated with VYTORIN and at an Incidence Greater than Placebo, Regardless of Causality

Body System/
Organ Class
Adverse Reaction
(%) n=371
Ezetimibe 10 mg
(%) n=302
Simvastatin† (%)
(%) n=1420
Body as a whole - general disorders
  Headache 5.4 6.0 5.9 5.8
Gastrointestinal system disorders 
  Diarrhea 2.2 5.0 3.7 2.8
Infections and infestations
  Influenza 0.8 1.0 1.9 2.3
  Upper respiratory tract infection 2.7 5.0 5.0 3.6
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
  Myalgia 2.4 2.3 2.6 3.6
  Pain in extremity 1.3 3.0 2.0 2.3
*Includes two placebo-controlled combination studies in which the active ingredients equivalent to VYTORIN were coadministered and two placebo-controlled studies in which VYTORIN was administered.
†All doses.

Study of Heart and Renal Protection

In SHARP, 9270 patients were allocated to VYTORIN 10/20 mg daily (n=4650) or placebo (n=4620) for a median follow-up period of 4.9 years. The proportion of patients who permanently discontinued study treatment as a result of either an adverse event or abnormal safety blood result was 10.4% vs. 9.8% among patients allocated to VYTORIN and placebo, respectively. Comparing those allocated to VYTORIN vs. placebo, the incidence of myopathy (defined as unexplained muscle weakness or pain with a serum CK > 10 times ULN) was 0.2% vs. 0.1% and the incidence of rhabdomyolysis (defined as myopathy with a CK > 40 times ULN) was 0.09% vs. 0.02%, respectively. Consecutive elevations of transaminases ( > 3 X ULN) occurred in 0.7% vs. 0.6%, respectively. Patients were asked about the occurrence of unexplained muscle pain or weakness at each study visit: 21.5% vs. 20.9% patients ever reported muscle symptoms in the VYTORIN and placebo groups, respectively. Cancer was diagnosed during the trial in 9.4% vs. 9.5% of patients assigned to VYTORIN and placebo, respectively.


Other adverse reactions reported with ezetimibe in placebo-controlled studies, regardless of causality assessment: Musculoskeletal system disorders: arthralgia; Infections and infestations: sinusitis; Body as a whole – general disorders: fatigue.


In a clinical trial in which 12,064 patients with a history of myocardial infarction were treated with simvastatin (mean follow-up 6.7 years), the incidence of myopathy (defined as unexplained muscle weakness or pain with a serum creatine kinase [CK] > 10 times upper limit of normal [ULN]) in patients on 80 mg/day was approximately 0.9% compared with 0.02% for patients on 20 mg/day. The incidence of rhabdomyolysis (defined as myopathy with a CK > 40 times ULN) in patients on 80 mg/day was approximately 0.4% compared with 0% for patients on 20 mg/day. The incidence of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, was highest during the first year and then notably decreased during the subsequent years of treatment. In this trial, patients were carefully monitored and some interacting medicinal products were excluded.

Other adverse reactions reported with simvastatin in placebo-controlled clinical studies, regardless of causality assessment: Cardiac disorders: atrial fibrillation; Ear and labyrinth disorders: vertigo; Gastrointestinal disorders: abdominal pain, constipation, dyspepsia, flatulence, gastritis; Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders: eczema, rash; Endocrine disorders: diabetes mellitus; Infections and infestations: bronchitis, sinusitis, urinary tract infections; Body as a whole – general disorders: asthenia, edema/swelling; Psychiatric disorders: insomnia.

Laboratory Tests

Marked persistent increases of hepatic serum transaminases have been noted [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Elevated alkaline phosphatase and γ-glutamyl transpeptidase have been reported. About 5% of patients taking simvastatin had elevations of CK levels of 3 or more times the normal value on one or more occasions. This was attributable to the noncardiac fraction of CK [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Postmarketing Experience

Because the below reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is generally not possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

The following adverse reactions have been reported in postmarketing experience for VYTORIN or ezetimibe or simvastatin: pruritus; alopecia; erythema multiforme; a variety of skin changes (e.g., nodules, discoloration, dryness of skin/mucous membranes, changes to hair/nails); dizziness; muscle cramps; myalgia; arthralgia; pancreatitis; paresthesia; peripheral neuropathy; vomiting; nausea; anemia; erectile dysfunction; interstitial lung disease; myopathy/rhabdomyolysis [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]; hepatitis/jaundice; fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure; depression; cholelithiasis; cholecystitis; thrombocytopenia; elevations in liver transaminases; elevated creatine phosphokinase.

There have been rare reports of immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy associated with statin use. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis, angioedema, rash, and urticaria have been reported.

In addition, an apparent hypersensitivity syndrome has been reported rarely that has included one or more of the following features: anaphylaxis, angioedema, lupus erythematous-like syndrome, polymyalgia rheumatica, dermatomyositis, vasculitis, purpura, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, hemolytic anemia, positive ANA, ESR increase, eosinophilia, arthritis, arthralgia, urticaria, asthenia, photosensitivity, fever, chills, flushing, malaise, dyspnea, toxic epidermal necrolysis, erythema multiforme, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

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).

Read the Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects




Strong CYP3A4 Inhibitors, Cyclosporine, Or Danazol

Strong CYP3A4 inhibitors: The risk of myopathy is increased by reducing the elimination of the simvastatin component of VYTORIN. Hence when VYTORIN is used with an inhibitor of CYP3A4 (e.g., as listed below), elevated plasma levels of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity increases the risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis, particularly with higher doses of VYTORIN. [See WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY] Concomitant use of drugs labeled as having a strong inhibitory effect on CYP3A4 is contraindicated [see CONTRAINDICATIONS]. If treatment with itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, erythromycin, clarithromycin or telithromycin is unavoidable, therapy with VYTORIN must be suspended during the course of treatment.

Cyclosporine or Danazol: The risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis is increased by concomitant administration of cyclosporine or danazol. Therefore, concomitant use of these drugs is contraindicated [see CONTRAINDICATIONS, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Lipid-Lowering Drugs That Can Cause Myopathy When Given Alone

Gemfibrozil: Contraindicated with VYTORIN [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Fenofibrates (e.g., fenofibrate and fenofibric acid): Caution should be used when prescribing with VYTORIN [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Amiodarone, Dronedarone, Ranolazine, Or Calcium Channel Blockers

The risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, is increased by concomitant administration of amiodarone, dronedarone, ranolazine, or calcium channel blockers such as verapamil, diltiazem or amlodipine [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and Table 6 in CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].


Cases of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis have been observed with simvastatin coadministered with lipid-modifying doses ( ≥ 1 g/day niacin) of niacin-containing products. The benefits of the combined use of VYTORIN with niacin should be carefully weighed against the potential risks of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis. In particular, caution should be used when treating Chinese patients with VYTORIN doses exceeding 10/20 mg/day coadministered with lipid-modifying doses of niacin-containing products. Because the risk for myopathy is dose-related, Chinese patients should not receive VYTORIN 10/80 mg coadministered with lipid-modifying doses of niacin-containing products. [See WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]


Concomitant cholestyramine administration decreased the mean AUC of total ezetimibe approximately 55%. The incremental LDL-C reduction due to adding VYTORIN to cholestyramine may be reduced by this interaction.


In one study, concomitant administration of digoxin with simvastatin resulted in a slight elevation in plasma digoxin concentrations. Patients taking digoxin should be monitored appropriately when VYTORIN is initiated.

Fenofibrates (e.g., fenofibrate and fenofibric acid)

The safety and effectiveness of VYTORIN administered with fibrates have not been established. Because it is known that the risk of myopathy during treatment with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors is increased with concurrent administration of fenofibrates, VYTORIN should be administered with caution when used concomitantly with a fenofibrate [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Fenofibrates may increase cholesterol excretion into the bile, leading to cholelithiasis. In a preclinical study in dogs, ezetimibe increased cholesterol in the gallbladder bile [see Animal Toxicology and/or Pharmacology]. If cholelithiasis is suspected in a patient receiving VYTORIN and a fenofibrate, gallbladder studies are indicated and alternative lipid-lowering therapy should be considered [see the product labeling for fenofibrate and fenofibric acid].

Coumarin Anticoagulants

Simvastatin 20-40 mg/day modestly potentiated the effect of coumarin anticoagulants: the prothrombin time, reported as International Normalized Ratio (INR), increased from a baseline of 1.7 to 1.8 and from 2.6 to 3.4 in a normal volunteer study and in a hypercholesterolemic patient study, respectively. With other statins, clinically evident bleeding and/or increased prothrombin time has been reported in a few patients taking coumarin anticoagulants concomitantly. In such patients, prothrombin time should be determined before starting VYTORIN and frequently enough during early therapy to ensure that no significant alteration of prothrombin time occurs. Once a stable prothrombin time has been documented, prothrombin times can be monitored at the intervals usually recommended for patients on coumarin anticoagulants. If the dose of VYTORIN is changed or discontinued, the same procedure should be repeated. Simvastatin therapy has not been associated with bleeding or with changes in prothrombin time in patients not taking anticoagulants.

Concomitant administration of ezetimibe (10 mg once daily) had no significant effect on bioavailability of warfarin and prothrombin time in a study of twelve healthy adult males. There have been postmarketing reports of increased INR in patients who had ezetimibe added to warfarin. Most of these patients were also on other medications.

The effect of VYTORIN on the prothrombin time has not been studied.


Cases of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, have been reported with simvastatin coadministered with colchicine, and caution should be exercised when prescribing VYTORIN with colchicine.

Read the Vytorin Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 2/17/2015

Side Effects

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