Safety changes in labeling for cholesterol lowering drugs statins

Important safety changes to the labeling for some widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins are being announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products, when used with diet and exercise, help to lower a person’s “bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol).

The products include: Lipitor (atorvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Altoprev (lovastatin extended-release), Livalo (pitavastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin), and Zocor (simvastatin). Combination products include: Advicor (lovastatin/niacin extended-release), Simcor (simvastatin/niacin extended-release), and Vytorin (simvastatin/ezetimibe).

We want health care professionals and patients to have the most current information on the risks of statins, but also to assure them that these medications continue to provide an important health benefit of lowering cholesterol,” said Mary Parks, M.D., director for the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the Office of Drug Evaluation II in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The changes to the statin labels are:

Monitoring Liver Enzymes
Labels have been revised to remove the need for routine periodic monitoring of liver enzymes in patients taking statins. The labels now recommend that liver enzyme tests should be performed before starting statin therapy and as clinically indicated thereafter. FDA has concluded that serious liver injury with statins is rare and unpredictable in individual patients, and that routine periodic monitoring of liver enzymes does not appear to be effective in detecting or preventing serious liver injury.

Adverse Event Information
Information about the potential for generally non-serious and reversible cognitive side effects (memory loss, confusion, etc.) and reports of increased blood sugar and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels has been added to the statin labels. FDA continues to believe that the cardiovascular benefits of statins outweigh these small increased risks.

Drug Interactions
The lovastatin label has been extensively updated with new contraindications (situations when the drug should not be used) and dose limitations when it is taken with certain medicines that can increase the risk for muscle injury (see Lovastatin Dose Limitations below).

Healthcare professionals should refer to the drug labels for the latest recommendations for prescribing statins (also see Additional Information for Healthcare Professionals below). Patients should contact their healthcare professional if they have any questions or concerns about statins.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, USA

Leave a Comment