Persistent increases (to more than 3 times the upper limit of normal) in serum transaminases occurred in 1.9% of adult patients who received lovastatin for at least one year in early clinical trials (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). When the drug was interrupted or discontinued in these patients, the transaminase levels usually fell slowly to pretreatment levels. The increases usually appeared 3 to 12 months after the start of therapy with lovastatin, and were not associated with jaundice or other clinical signs or symptoms. There was no evidence of hypersensitivity. In the EXCEL study (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY: Clinical Studies), the incidence of persistent increases in serum transaminases over 48 weeks was 0.1% for placebo, 0.1% at 20 mg/day, 0.9% at 40 mg/day, and 1.5% at 80 mg/day in patients on lovastatin. However, in post-marketing experience with lovastatin, symptomatic liver disease has been reported rarely at all dosages (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).
In AFCAPS/TexCAPS, the number of participants with consecutive elevations of either alanine aminotransferase (ALT) or aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (> 3 times the upper limit of normal), over a median of 5.1 years of follow-up, was not significantly different between the lovastatin and placebo groups (18 [0.6%] vs. 11 [0.3%]). The starting dose of lovastatin was 20 mg/day; 50% of the lovastatin treated participants were titrated to 40 mg/day at week 18. Of the 18 participants on lovastatin with consecutive elevations of either ALT or AST, 11 (0.7%) elevations occurred in participants taking 20 mg/day, while 7 (0.4%) elevations occurred in participants titrated to 40 mg/day. Elevated transaminases resulted in discontinuation of 6 (0.2%) participants from therapy in the lovastatin group (n = 3,304) and 4 (0.1%) in the placebo group (n = 3,301).
It is recommended that liver enzyme tests be obtained prior to initiating therapy with lovastatin and repeated as clinically indicated.
There have been rare post-marketing reports of fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure in patients taking statins, including lovastatin. If serious liver injury with clinical symptoms and/or hyperbilirubinemia or jaundice occurs during treatment with lovastatin, promptly interrupt therapy. If an alternate etiology is not found do not restart lovastatin.
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 disease or unexplained transaminase elevations are contraindications to the use of lovastatin.
Moderate (less than 3 times the upper limit of normal) elevations of serum transaminases have been reported following therapy with lovastatin (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). These changes appeared soon after initiation of therapy with lovastatin, were often transient, were not accompanied by any symptoms and interruption of treatment was not required.
Lovastatin may elevate creatine phosphokinase and transaminase levels (see WARNINGS and ADVERSE REACTIONS). This should be considered in the differential diagnosis of chest pain in a patient on therapy with lovastatin.
Lovastatin is less effective in patients with the rare homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, possibly because these patients have no functional LDL receptors. Lovastatin appears to be more likely to raise serum transaminases (see ADVERSE REACTIONS) in these homozygous patients.
Patients should be advised about substances they should not take concomitantly with lovastatin and be advised to report promptly unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness particularly if accompanied by malaise or fever or if muscle signs and symptoms persist after discontinuing lovastatin (see list below and WARNINGS: Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis). Patients should also be advised to inform other physicians prescribing a new medication that they are taking lovastatin.
It is recommended that liver enzymes be checked before starting therapy, and if signs or symptoms of liver injury occur. All patients treated with lovastatin should be advised to report promptly any symptoms that may indicate liver injury, including fatigue, anorexia, right upper abdominal discomfort, dark urine or jaundice.
Lovastatin is metabolized by CYP3A4 but has no CYP3A4 inhibitory activity; therefore it is not expected to affect the plasma concentrations of other drugs metabolized by CYP3A4. Strong inhibitors of CYP3A4 (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, clarithromycin, telithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors, boceprevir, telaprevir, nefazodone, erythromycin and cobicistat-containing products), and grapefruit juice increase the risk of myopathy by reducing the elimination of lovastatin (see CONTRAINDICATIONS, WARNINGS: Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis, and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY: Pharmacokinetics).
The risk of myopathy is also increased by the following lipid-lowering drugs that are not strong CYP3A4 inhibitors, but which can cause myopathy when given alone.
Other fibrates Niacin (nicotinic acid) (≥ 1 g/day)
The risk of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis is increased by concomitant administration of cyclosporine (see WARNINGS: Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis).
The risk of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis is increased by concomitant administration of danazol, diltiazem, dronedarone or verapamil particularly with higher doses of lovastatin (see WARNINGS: Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis; CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY: Pharmacokinetics).
The risk of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis is increased when amiodarone is used concomitantly with a closely related member of the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor class (see WARNINGS: Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis).
In a small clinical trial in which lovastatin was administered to warfarin treated patients, no effect on prothrombin time was detected. However, another HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor has been found to produce a less than 2 second increase in prothrombin time in healthy volunteers receiving low doses of warfarin. Also, bleeding and/or increased prothrombin time have been reported in a few patients taking coumarin anticoagulants concomitantly with lovastatin. It is recommended that in patients taking anticoagulants, prothrombin time be determined before starting lovastatin and frequently enough during early therapy to insure that no significant alteration of prothrombin time occurs. Once a stable prothrombin time has been documented, prothrombin times can be monitored at the intervals usually recommended for patients on coumarin anticoagulants. If the dose of lovastatin is changed, the same procedure should be repeated. Lovastatin therapy has not been associated with bleeding or with changes in prothrombin time in patients not taking anticoagulants.
Cases of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, have been reported with lovastatin coadministered with colchicine (see WARNINGS: Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis).
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