Persistent increases (to more than 3 times 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 > 3 times 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 > 3 times 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 3 times 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.
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%), 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.
|Simvastatin (N = 2,221) %||Placebo (N = 2,223) %|
|Body as a Whole|
|Cardiovascular System Disorders|
|Digestive System Disorders|
|Nervous System/ Psychiatric Disorders|
|Respiratory System Disorders|
|Skin / Skin Appendage Disorders|
|Urogenital System Disorders|
|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.
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) ].
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