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.
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).
Strong CYP3A4 inhibitors: Simvastatin, like several other inhibitors of HMG-CoA reductase, is a substrate of CYP3A4. Simvastatin 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.
Elevated plasma levels of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity increases the risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis, particularly with higher doses of simvastatin. [See Warnings and Precautions (5.1) and Clinical Pharmacology (12.3). ] Concomitant use of drugs labeled as having a strong inhibitory effect on CYP3A4 is contraindicated [see Contraindications (4) ]. If treatment with itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, erythromycin, clarithromycin or telithromycin is unavoidable, therapy with simvastatin must be suspended during the course of treatment.
Cyclosporine or Danazol: The risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis is increased by concomitant administration of cyclosporine or danazol. Therefore, concomitant use of these drugs is contraindicated [see Contraindications (4) , Warnings and Precautions (5.1) and Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].
The risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, is increased by concomitant administration of amiodarone, dronedarone, ranolazine, or calcium channel blockers such as verapamil, diltiazem, or amlodipine [see Dosage and Administration (2.3) and Warnings and Precautions (5.1), and Table 3 in Clinical Pharmacology (12.3) ].
Cases of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis have been observed with simvastatin coadministered with lipid-modifying doses (≥ 1 g/day niacin) of niacin-containing products. In particular, caution should be used when treating Chinese patients with simvastatin 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. [See Warnings and Precautions (5.1) and Clinical Pharmacology (12.3).]
In one study, concomitant administration of digoxin with simvastatin resulted in a slight elevation in digoxin concentrations in plasma. Patients taking digoxin should be monitored appropriately when simvastatin is initiated [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3) ].
In two clinical studies, one in normal volunteers and the other in hypercholesterolemic patients, simvastatin 20 to 40 mg/day modestly potentiated the effect of coumarin anticoagulants: the prothrombin time, reported as International Normalized Ratio (INR), increased from a baseline of 1.7 to 1.8 and from 2.6 to 3.4 in the volunteer and patient studies, respectively. With other statins, clinically evident bleeding and/or increased prothrombin time has been reported in a few patients taking coumarin anticoagulants concomitantly. In such patients, prothrombin time should be determined before starting simvastatin and frequently enough during early therapy to ensure 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 simvastatin is changed or discontinued, the same procedure should be repeated. Simvastatin therapy has not been associated with bleeding or with changes in prothrombin time in patients not taking anticoagulants.
Simvastatin is contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant. Lipid lowering drugs offer no benefit during pregnancy, because cholesterol and cholesterol derivatives are needed for normal fetal development. Atherosclerosis is a chronic process, and discontinuation of lipid-lowering drugs during pregnancy should have little impact on long-term outcomes of primary hypercholesterolemia therapy. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of use with simvastatin during pregnancy; however, there are rare reports of congenital anomalies in infants exposed to statins in utero. Animal reproduction studies of simvastatin in rats and rabbits showed no evidence of teratogenicity. Serum cholesterol and triglycerides increase during normal pregnancy, and cholesterol or cholesterol derivatives are essential for fetal development. Because statins decrease cholesterol synthesis and possibly the synthesis of other biologically active substances derived from cholesterol, simvastatin may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. If simvastatin is used during pregnancy or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus.
There are rare reports of congenital anomalies following intrauterine exposure to statins. In a review 2 of approximately 100 prospectively followed pregnancies in women exposed to simvastatin or another structurally related statin, the incidences of congenital anomalies, spontaneous abortions, and fetal deaths/stillbirths did not exceed those expected in the general population. However, the study was only able to exclude a 3- to 4-fold increased risk of congenital anomalies over the background rate. In 89% of these cases, drug treatment was initiated prior to pregnancy and was discontinued during the first trimester when pregnancy was identified.
Simvastatin was not teratogenic in rats or rabbits at doses (25, 10 mg/kg/day, respectively) that resulted in 3 times the human exposure based on mg/m 2 surface area. However, in studies with another structurally-related statin, skeletal malformations were observed in rats and mice.
Women of childbearing potential, who require treatment with simvastatin for a lipid disorder, should be advised to use effective contraception. For women trying to conceive, discontinuation of simvastatin should be considered. If pregnancy occurs, simvastatin should be immediately discontinued.
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