Zocor® (Simvastatin) Information

What is Zocor ® Used For?

Zocor® is a cholesterol-lowering statin and prescription medication. It is used to reduce the amount of fatty substances such as "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and to increase the amount of "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. This medication was initially marketed by the healthcare company Merck under the brand name Zocor®. It is also sold under the generic name simvastatin.

Zocor® is to be used in combination with lifestyle changes, including diet and weight loss to lower cholesterol. In some cases, it may also be used to decrease the risk of heart attacks, strokes and death. It can also decrease the need for surgery to improve blood flow in people who have medical conditions that put them at a high risk for developing heart and blood vessel problems.

Patient Information

In June 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning recommending limiting the use of the highest-approved 80-mg dose of Zocor®. The warning stated that patients who take Zocor® may be at an increased risk of developing muscle damage called myopathy or a more severe form of this condition called rhabdomyolysis, which can lead to kidney damage.

The warning stated that patients taking this medication daily may be at an increased risk of myopathy compared to patients taking lower doses of Zocor® or other drugs in the same class. The risk appears to be higher during the first year of treatment, and is often the result of interactions with certain medications.

The FDA said it recommends that the 80-mg dose should only be used by patients who have been taking the medication for 12 months and who have not experienced any adverse effects. The agency also advises against prescribing an 80 mg dose to new patients. Last year approximately 2.1 million people were prescribed a medication containing 80 mg of Zocor®.

Drug Interactions

Certain drugs, when combined with Zocor® can increase the risk of muscle problems. Patients are advised not to take Zocor® in combination with the following medications:

  • Itraconazole. Ketoconazole, Posaconazole and other antifungal medications
  • HIV protease inhibitors
  • Erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin and other antibiotics
  • Cyclosporine
  • Danazol
  • Gemfibrozil

Patients are also advised to tell their doctors if they are taking any of the following medications:

  • Niacin
  • Coumarin anticoagulants
  • Fibric acid derivatives
  • Amiodarone
  • Colchicine
  • Voriconazole

Certain drugs to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions may also affect the prescription for simvastatin. Large quantities of grapefruit juice might also affect the prescription.

Zocor ® Problems and Side Effects

Simvastatin has been linked to cases of muscle problems, including pain, tenderness and weakness. It has also been linked to an increase in the risk of muscle breakdown, which in some rare cases can lead to serious kidney problems and death. According to the June 2011 FDA update, the risk for muscle breakdown increases with stronger doses of simvastatin during the first year of use.

Clinical trials have shown other side effects, including headaches, abdominal pain, constipation, nausea and respiratory infection. Some patients have also reported liver problems.

If you are prescribed Zocor®, you should talk to your doctor about all the potential risks associated with the drug. If you experience a harmful side effect, you might qualify for compensation. To learn more, contact our Zocor® attorneys as soon as possible.

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