Simvastatin (Zocor) belongs to a group of drugs called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, or “statins.” It reduces levels of “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and triglycerides in the blood, while increasing levels of “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL).
Simvastatin is used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides (types of fat) in the blood.
Simvastatin is also used to lower the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other heart complications in people with diabetes, coronary heart disease, or other risk factors
Simvastatin is used in adults and children who are at least 10 years old.
You should not take simvastatin if you are allergic to it, if you have liver disease, or if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. In rare cases, simvastatin can cause a condition that results in the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, leading to kidney failure. This condition may be more likely to occur in older adults and in people who have kidney disease or poorly controlled hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). You may also be more likely to develop this condition if you are of Chinese descent and you take high-dose simvastatin while also taking medication that contains niacin (Advicor, Niaspan, Niacor, Simcor, Slo-Niacin, and others).
The following drugs can increase your risk of serious muscle problems if you take them together with simvastatin. These drugs should not be used while you are taking simvastatin:
- cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune);
- danazol (Danocrine);
- gemfibrozil (Lopid);
- nefazodone (an antidepressant);
- the antibiotics clarithromycin (Biaxin), erythromycin (E.E.S., EryPed, Ery-Tab, Erythrocin, Pediazole), and telithromycin (Ketek);
- the antifungal medications itraconazole (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral), and posaconazole (Noxafil); or
- the HIV/AIDS medications atazanavir (Reyataz), darunavir (Prezista), fosamprenavir (Lexiva), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir, Kaletra), saquinavir (Invirase), and tipranavir (Aptivus).
Before you start taking simvastatin, tell your doctor if you are already using any of these other medicines:
- amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone);
- diltiazem (Cartia, Cardizem);
- amlodipine (Norvasc, Caduet, Exforge, Lotrel, Tekamlo, Tribenzor, Twynsta, Amturnide);
- ranolazine (Ranexa); or
- verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan).
To make sure you can safely take simvastatin, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
- history of liver disease;
- history of kidney disease;
- a thyroid disorder; or
- if you drink more than 2 alcoholic beverages daily.
FDA pregnancy category X. Simvastatin can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects. Do not take simvastatin if you are pregnant. Stop taking this medication and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant. Use effective birth control to avoid pregnancy while you are taking this medicine. Simvastatin may pass into breast milk and could harm a nursing baby. Do not breast-feed while you are taking simvastatin.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to simvastatin: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop taking simvastatin and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
- unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness;
- fever, unusual tiredness, and dark colored urine;
- pain or burning when you urinate;
- swelling, weight gain, urinating less than usual or not at all; or
- nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Less serious simvastatin side effects may include:
- joint pain, mild muscle pain;
- constipation, stomach pain or indigestion, mild nausea;
- mild skin rash;
- sleep problems (insomnia); or
- cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.