The Food and Drug Administration last week released a warning last week about using a high dose of the cholesterol-lowering medication simvastatin (Zocor), as a result of concerns about muscle damage.
Mayo Clinic’s recommendations to patients are the same as the FDA’s:
If a patient has been taking 80 mg of simvastatin daily for more than 12 months and has no side effects (especially muscle side effects), he or she can continue at that dose, with periodic monitoring, or switch to another medication or combination of medications to achieve the same LDL (bad cholesterol) goal.
New patients being treated for lipid lowering, the maximum dose of simvastatin should be 40 mg daily. If addition lipid lowering is necessary, other lipid-lowering agents should be considered (for example, atorvastatin, Vytorin, rosuvastatin, statin and niacin).
Patients who are taking and tolerating simvastatin, medications that can increase the risk of muscle side effects should be avoided, if possible. If such medications cannot be avoided, alternative lipid-lowering drugs with a lower potential for drug interactions should be considered (such as pravastatin or rosuvastatin).
Patients should look at the FDA website to see if they are on another medication that should not be used with simvastatin, or are on a medication that necessitates a lower dose of simvastatin. It is also recommended that patients talk with their physician about the use of simvastatin.