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 )].
Other fibrates: Caution should be used when prescribing with simvastatin [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
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. The risk of myopathy is greater in Chinese patients. In a clinical trial (median follow-up 3.9 years) involving patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease and with well-controlled LDL-C levels on simvastatin 40 mg/day with or without ezetimibe 10 mg/day, there was no incremental benefit on cardiovascular outcomes with the addition of lipid-modifying doses (≥1 g/day) of niacin. Coadministration of simvastatin tablets with lipid-modifying doses (≥1 g/day) of niacin is not recommended in Chinese patients. It is unknown if this risk applies to other Asian patients [ See Warnings and Precautions (5.1) and Use in Specific Populations (8.8).]
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.
Cases of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, have been reported with simvastatin coadministered with colchicine, and caution should be exercised when prescribing simvastatin with colchicine.
Cases of rhabdomyolysis have been reported with simvastatin administered with daptomycin. Both simvastatin and daptomycin can cause myopathy and rhabdomyolysis when given alone and the risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis may be increased by coadministration. Temporarily suspend simvastatin in patients taking daptomycin [ see Warnings and Precautions (5.1) ].
Pregnancy Category X [See Contraindications (4).]
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/m2 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.
- Manson, J.M., Freyssinges, C., Ducrocq, M.B., Stephenson, W.P., Post marketing Surveillance of Lovastatin and Simvastatin Exposure During Pregnancy, Reproductive Toxicology, 10(6):439-446, 1996.
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