Simvastatin


Indications

Therapy with lipid-altering agents should be only one component of multiple risk factor intervention in individuals at significantly increased risk for atherosclerotic vascular disease due to hypercholesterolemia. Drug therapy is indicated as an adjunct to diet when the response to a diet restricted in saturated fat and cholesterol and other nonpharmacologic measures alone has been inadequate. In patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) or at high risk of CHD, simvastatin tablets USP can be started simultaneously with diet.

1.1 Reductions in Risk of CHD Mortality and Cardiovascular Events

In patients at high risk of coronary events because of existing coronary heart disease, diabetes, peripheral vessel disease, history of stroke or other cerebrovascular disease, simvastatin tablets USP are indicated to:

Reduce the risk of total mortality by reducing CHD deaths.
Reduce the risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction and stroke.
Reduce the need for coronary and non-coronary revascularization procedures.

1.2 Hyperlipidemia

Simvastatin tablets USP are indicated to:

Reduce elevated total cholesterol (total-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), apolipoprotein B (Apo B), and triglycerides (TG), and to increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) in patients with primary hyperlipidemia (Fredrickson type IIa, heterozygous familial and nonfamilial) or mixed dyslipidemia (Fredrickson type IIb).
Reduce elevated TG in patients with hypertriglyceridemia (Fredrickson type IV hyperlipidemia).
Reduce elevated TG and VLDL-C in patients with primary dysbetalipoproteinemia (Fredrickson type III hyperlipidemia).
Reduce total-C and LDL-C in patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH) as an adjunct to other lipid-lowering treatments (e.g., LDL apheresis) or if such treatments are unavailable.

1.3 Adolescent Patients With Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (HeFH)

Simvastatin tablets USP are indicated as an adjunct to diet to reduce total-C, LDL-C, and Apo B levels in adolescent boys and girls who are at least one year post-menarche, 10 to 17 years of age, with HeFH, if after an adequate trial of diet therapy the following findings are present:

1.
LDL cholesterol remains ≥ 190 mg/dL; or
2.
LDL cholesterol remains ≥ 160 mg/dL and
There is a positive family history of premature cardiovascular disease (CVD) or
Two or more other CVD risk factors are present in the adolescent patient.

The minimum goal of treatment in pediatric and adolescent patients is to achieve a mean LDL-C < 130 mg/dL. The optimal age at which to initiate lipid-lowering therapy to decrease the risk of symptomatic adulthood CAD has not been determined.

1.4 Limitations of Use

Simvastatin tablets USP have not been studied in conditions where the major abnormality is elevation of chylomicrons (i.e., hyperlipidemia Fredrickson types I and V).

contraindications

Simvastatin tablets are contraindicated in the following conditions:

Concomitant administration of strong CYP3A4 inhibitors (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, HIV protease inhibitors, boceprevir, telaprevir, erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin, nefazodone, and cobicistat-containing products) [see Warnings and Precautions ( ].
Concomitant administration of gemfibrozil, cyclosporine, or danazol [ ].
Hypersensitivity to any component of this medication [ ].
Active liver disease, which may include unexplained persistent elevations in hepatic transaminase levels [ ].
Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. Serum cholesterol and triglycerides increase during normal pregnancy, and cholesterol or cholesterol derivatives are essential for fetal development. Because HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) decrease cholesterol synthesis and possibly the synthesis of other biologically active substances derived from cholesterol, simvastatin tablets may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Atherosclerosis is a chronic process and the discontinuation of lipid-lowering drugs during pregnancy should have little impact on the outcome of long-term therapy of primary hypercholesterolemia. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of use with simvastatin during pregnancy; however, in rare reports congenital anomalies were observed following intrauterine exposure to statins. In rat and rabbit animal reproduction studies, simvastatin revealed no evidence of teratogenicity. Simvastatin tablets should be administered to women of childbearing age only when such patients are highly unlikely to conceive. If the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, simvastatin tablets should be discontinued immediately and the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus [ ].
Nursing mothers. It is not known whether simvastatin is excreted into human milk; however, a small amount of another drug in this class does pass into breast milk. Because statins have the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, women who require treatment with simvastatin tablets should not breastfeed their infants [ ].

adverse reactions

6.1 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 pre-marketing controlled clinical studies and their open extensions (2,423 patients with median duration of follow-up of approximately 18 months), 1.4% of patients were discontinued due to adverse reactions. The most common adverse reactions that led to treatment discontinuation were: gastrointestinal disorders (0.5%), myalgia (0.1%), and arthralgia (0.1%). The most commonly reported adverse reactions (incidence ≥ 5%) in simvastatin controlled clinical trials were: upper respiratory infections (9.0%), headache (7.4%), abdominal pain (7.3%), constipation (6.6%), and nausea (5.4%).

In 4S involving 4,444 (age range 35 to 71 years, 19% women, 100% Caucasians) treated with 20 to 40 mg/day of simvastatin (n = 2,221) or placebo (n = 2,223) over a median of 5.4 years, adverse reactions reported in ≥ 2% of patients and at a rate greater than placebo are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Adverse Reactions Reported Regardless of Causality by ≥ 2% of Patients Treated With Simvastatin and Greater Than Placebo in 4S

Simvastatin
(N = 2,221)
%

Placebo
(N = 2,223)
%

Edema/swelling

2.7

2.3

Abdominal pain

5.9

5.8

Atrial fibrillation

5.7

5.1

Constipation

2.2

1.6

Gastritis

4.9

3.9

Diabetes mellitus

4.2

3.6

Myalgia

3.7

3.2

Headache

2.5

2.1

Insomnia

4.0

3.8

Vertigo

4.5

4.2

Bronchitis

6.6

6.3

Sinusitis

2.3

1.8

Eczema

4.5

3.0

Infection, urinary tract

3.2

3.1

In the Heart Protection Study (HPS), involving 20,536 patients (age range 40 to 80 years, 25% women, 97% Caucasians, 3% other races) treated with simvastatin 40 mg/day (n = 10,269) or placebo (n = 10,267) over a mean of 5 years, only serious adverse reactions and discontinuations due to any adverse reactions were recorded. Discontinuation rates due to adverse reactions were 4.8% in patients treated with simvastatin compared with 5.1% in patients treated with placebo. The incidence of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis was < 0.1% in patients treated with simvastatin.

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 in clinical trials were: diarrhea, rash, dyspepsia, flatulence, and asthenia.

Marked persistent increases of hepatic transaminases have been noted [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]. Elevated alkaline phosphatase and γ-glutamyl transpeptidase have also been reported. About 5% of patients 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 (5.1)].

In a 48 week, controlled study in adolescent boys and girls who were at least 1 year post-menarche, 10 to 17 years of age (43.4% female, 97.7% Caucasians, 1.7% Hispanics, 0.6% Multiracial) with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (n = 175), treated with placebo or simvastatin (10 to 40 mg daily), the most common adverse reactions observed in both groups were upper respiratory infection, headache, abdominal pain, and nausea [see Use in Specific Populations (8.4) and Clinical Studies (14.2)].

6.2 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 additional adverse reactions have been identified during postapproval use of simvastatin: pruritus, alopecia, a variety of skin changes (e.g., nodules, discoloration, dryness of skin/mucous membranes, changes to hair/nails), dizziness, muscle cramps, myalgia, pancreatitis, paresthesia, peripheral neuropathy, vomiting, anemia, erectile dysfunction, interstitial lung disease, rhabdomyolysis, hepatitis/jaundice, fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure, and depression.

There have been rare reports of immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy associated with statin use [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].

An apparent hypersensitivity syndrome has been reported rarely which has included some 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).

warnings and precautions

5.1 Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis

Simvastatin occasionally causes myopathy manifested as muscle pain, tenderness or weakness with creatine kinase (CK) above ten times the upper limit of normal (ULN). Myopathy sometimes takes the form of rhabdomyolysis with or without acute renal failure secondary to myoglobinuria, and rare fatalities have occurred. The risk of myopathy is increased by high levels of statin activity in plasma. Predisposing factors for myopathy include advanced age (≥ 65 years), female gender, uncontrolled hypothyroidism, and renal impairment.

The risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, is dose related. In a clinical trial database in which 41,413 patients were treated with simvastatin, 24,747 (approximately 60%) of whom were enrolled in studies with a median follow-up of at least 4 years, the incidence of myopathy was approximately 0.03% and 0.08% at 20 and 40 mg/day, respectively. The incidence of myopathy with 80 mg (0.61%) was disproportionately higher than that observed at the lower doses. In these trials, patients were carefully monitored and some interacting medicinal products were excluded.

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.

The risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, is greater in patients on simvastatin 80 mg compared with other statin therapies with similar or greater LDL-C-lowering efficacy and compared with lower doses of simvastatin. Therefore, the 80 mg dose of simvastatin should be used only in patients who have been taking simvastatin 80 mg chronically (e.g., for 12 months or more) without evidence of muscle toxicity [see Dosage and Administration, Restricted Dosing for 80 mg (2.2)]. If, however, a patient who is currently tolerating the 80 mg dose of simvastatin needs to be initiated on an interacting drug that is contraindicated or is associated with a dose cap for simvastatin, that patient should be switched to an alternative statin with less potential for the drug-drug interaction. Patients should be advised of the increased risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, and to report promptly any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness. If symptoms occur, treatment should be discontinued immediately. [See Warnings and Precautions (5.2).]

There have been rare reports of immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM), an autoimmune myopathy, associated with statin use. IMNM is characterized by: proximal muscle weakness and elevated serum creatine kinase, which persist despite discontinuation of statin treatment; muscle biopsy showing necrotizing myopathy without significant inflammation; improvement with immunosuppressive agents.

All patients starting therapy with simvastatin, or whose dose of simvastatin is being increased, should be advised of the risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, and told to report promptly any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness particularly if accompanied by malaise or fever or if muscle signs and symptoms persist after discontinuing simvastatin. Simvastatin therapy should be discontinued immediately if myopathy is diagnosed or suspected. In most cases, muscle symptoms and CK increases resolved when treatment was promptly discontinued. Periodic CK determinations may be considered in patients starting therapy with simvastatin or whose dose is being increased, but there is no assurance that such monitoring will prevent myopathy.

Many of the patients who have developed rhabdomyolysis on therapy with simvastatin have had complicated medical histories, including renal insufficiency usually as a consequence of long-standing diabetes mellitus. Such patients merit closer monitoring. Simvastatin therapy should be discontinued if markedly elevated CPK levels occur or myopathy is diagnosed or suspected. Simvastatin 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 and rhabdomyolysis is increased by high levels of statin activity in plasma. Simvastatin is metabolized by the cytochrome P450 isoform 3A4. Certain drugs which inhibit this metabolic pathway can raise the plasma levels of simvastatin and may increase the risk of myopathy. These include itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, the macrolide antibiotics erythromycin and clarithromycin, and the ketolide antibiotic telithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors, boceprevir, telaprevir, the antidepressant nefazodone, cobicistat-containing products, or grapefruit juice [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)]. Combination of these drugs with simvastatin is contraindicated. If short-term treatment with strong CYP3A4 inhibitors is unavoidable, therapy with simvastatin must be suspended during the course of treatment. [See Contraindications (4) and Drug Interactions (7.1).]

The combined use of simvastatin with gemfibrozil, cyclosporine, or danazol is contraindicated [see Contraindications (4) and Drug Interactions (7.1 and 7.2)].

Caution should be used when prescribing other fibrates with simvastatin, as these agents can cause myopathy when given alone and the risk is increased when they are coadministered [see Drug Interactions (7.2)].

Cases of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, have been reported with simvastatin coadministered with colchicine, and caution should be exercised when prescribing simvastatin with colchicine [see Drug Interactions (7.7)].

The benefits of the combined use of simvastatin with the following drugs should be carefully weighed against the potential risks of combinations: other lipid-lowering drugs (other fibrates, ≥ 1 g/day of niacin, or, for patients with HoFH, lomitapide), amiodarone, dronedarone, verapamil, diltiazem, amlodipine, or ranolazine [see Drug Interactions (7.3) and Table 3 in Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] [also see Dosage and Administration, Patients With Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (2.4)].

Cases of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, have been observed with simvastatin coadministered with lipid-modifying doses (≥ 1 g/day niacin) of niacin-containing products. In an ongoing, double-blind, randomized cardiovascular outcomes trial, an independent safety monitoring committee identified that the incidence of myopathy is higher in Chinese compared with non-Chinese patients taking simvastatin 40 mg coadministered with lipid-modifying doses of a niacin-containing product. Caution should be used when treating Chinese patients with simvastatin in doses exceeding 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 simvastatin 80 mg coadministered with lipid-modifying doses of niacin-containing products. It is unknown if the risk for myopathy with coadministration of simvastatin with lipid-modifying doses of niacin-containing products observed in Chinese patients applies to other Asian patients [see Drug Interactions (7.4)].

Prescribing recommendations for interacting agents are summarized in Table 1 [see also Dosage and Administration (2.3, 2.4), Drug Interactions (7), Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].

Table 1: Drug Interactions Associated With Increased Risk of Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis
*
For patients with HoFH who have been taking 80 mg simvastatin chronically (e.g., for 12 months or more) without evidence of muscle toxicity, do not exceed 40 mg simvastatin when taking lomitapide.

Interacting Agents

Prescribing Recommendations

Strong CYP3A4 Inhibitors, e.g.:

Itraconazole

Ketoconazole

Posaconazole

Voriconazole

Erythromycin

Clarithromycin

Telithromycin

HIV protease inhibitors

Boceprevir

Telaprevir

Nefazodone

Cobicistat-containing products

Gemfibrozil

Cyclosporine

Danazol

Contraindicated with simvastatin

Verapamil

Diltiazem

Dronedarone

Do not exceed 10 mg simvastatin daily

Amiodarone

Amlodipine

Ranolazine

Do not exceed 20 mg simvastatin daily

Lomitapide

For patients with HoFH, do not exceed 20 mg simvastatin daily*

Grapefruit juice

Avoid grapefruit juice

5.2 Liver Dysfunction

Persistent increases (to more than 3X the ULN) in serum transaminases have occurred in approximately 1% of patients who received simvastatin in clinical studies. When drug treatment was interrupted or discontinued in these patients, the transaminase levels usually fell slowly to pretreatment levels. The increases were not associated with jaundice or other clinical signs or symptoms. There was no evidence of hypersensitivity.

In the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study (4S) [see Clinical Studies (14.1)], the number of patients with more than one transaminase elevation to > 3X ULN, over the course of the study, was not significantly different between the simvastatin and placebo groups (14 [0.7%] vs. 12 [0.6%]). Elevated transaminases resulted in the discontinuation of 8 patients from therapy in the simvastatin group (n = 2,221) and 5 in the placebo group (n = 2,223). Of the 1,986 simvastatin treated patients in 4S with normal liver function tests (LFTs) at baseline, 8 (0.4%) developed consecutive LFT elevations to > 3X ULN and/or were discontinued due to transaminase elevations during the 5.4 years (median follow-up) of the study. Among these 8 patients, 5 initially developed these abnormalities within the first year. All of the patients in this study received a starting dose of 20 mg of simvastatin; 37% were titrated to 40 mg.

In 2 controlled clinical studies in 1,105 patients, the 12 month incidence of persistent hepatic transaminase elevation without regard to drug relationship was 0.9% and 2.1% at the 40 and 80 mg dose, respectively. No patients developed persistent liver function abnormalities following the initial 6 months of treatment at a given dose.

It is recommended that liver function tests be performed before the initiation of treatment, and thereafter when clinically indicated. There have been rare postmarketing reports of fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure in patients taking statins, including simvastatin. If serious liver injury with clinical symptoms and/or hyperbilirubinemia or jaundice occurs during treatment with simvastatin, promptly interrupt therapy. If an alternate etiology is not found do not restart simvastatin. Note that ALT may emanate from muscle, therefore ALT rising with CK may indicate myopathy [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].

The drug should be used with caution in patients who consume substantial quantities of alcohol and/or have a past history of liver disease. Active liver diseases or unexplained transaminase elevations are contraindications to the use of simvastatin.

Moderate (less than 3X ULN) elevations of serum transaminases have been reported following therapy with simvastatin. These changes appeared soon after initiation of therapy with simvastatin, were often transient, were not accompanied by any symptoms and did not require interruption of treatment.

5.3 Endocrine Function

Increases in HbA1c and fasting serum glucose levels have been reported with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, including simvastatin.

overdosage

Significant lethality was observed in mice after a single oral dose of 9 g/m2. No evidence of lethality was observed in rats or dogs treated with doses of 30 and 100 g/m2, respectively. No specific diagnostic signs were observed in rodents. At these doses the only signs seen in dogs were emesis and mucoid stools.

A few cases of overdosage with simvastatin have been reported; the maximum dose taken was 3.6 g. All patients recovered without sequelae. Supportive measures should be taken in the event of an overdose. The dialyzability of simvastatin and its metabolites in man is not known at present.

description

Simvastatin, USP is a lipid-lowering agent that is derived synthetically from a fermentation product ofAfter oral ingestion, simvastatin, USP, which is an inactive lactone, is hydrolyzed to the corresponding β-hydroxyacid form. This is an inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase. This enzyme catalyzes the conversion of HMG-CoA to mevalonate, which is an early and rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis of cholesterol.

Simvastatin, USP is butanoic acid, 2,2-dimethyl-,1,2,3,7,8,8a-hexahydro-3,7-dimethyl-8-[2-(tetrahydro-4-hydroxy-6-oxo-2H-pyran-2-yl)-ethyl]-1-naphthalenyl ester, [1S-[1α,3α,7β,8β(2S*,4S*),-8aβ]]. Its structural formula is:

C25H38O5 M.W. 418.57

Simvastatin, USP is a white to off-white, nonhygroscopic, crystalline powder that is practically insoluble in water, and freely soluble in chloroform, methanol and ethanol.

Simvastatin tablets USP for oral administration contain either 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg or 80 mg of simvastatin, USP and the following inactive ingredients: ascorbic acid, butylated hydroxyanisole, citric acid monohydrate, hypromellose, iron oxide red, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, pregelatinized corn starch, titanium dioxide and triacetin. Additionally, the 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, and 80 mg strengths contain: iron oxide yellow; and the 5 mg and 80 mg strengths contain: iron oxide black.

Simvastatin Package Photos

About the Author

Truman Lewis
Truman has been a bureau chief and correspondent in D.C., Los Angeles, Phoenix and elsewhere, reporting for radio, television, print and news services, for more than 30 years. Most recently, he has reported extensively on health and consumer issues for ConsumerAffairs.com and FairfaxNews.com.