SIMVASTATIN- simvastatin tablet, orally disintegrating
Synthon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Prescribing Information


Simvastatin is a lipid-lowering agent that is derived synthetically from a fermentation product of Aspergillus terreus. After oral ingestion, simvastatin, which is an inactive lactone, is hydrolyzed to the corresponding β-hydroxyacid form. This is an inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase. This enzyme catalyzes the conversion of HMG-CoA to mevalonate, which is an early and rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis of cholesterol.

Simvastatin is butanoic acid, 2,2-dimethyl-,1,2,3,7,8,8a-hexahydro-3,7-dimethyl-8-[2-(tetrahydro-4-hydroxy-6-oxo-2H -pyran-2-yl)-ethyl]-1-naphthalenyl ester, [1S -[1α,3α,7β,8β(2S* ,4S*),-8aβ]]. The empirical formula of simvastatin is C25 H38 O5 and its molecular weight is 418.57. Its structural formula is:

Image from Drug Label Content

Simvastatin is a white to off-white, nonhygroscopic, crystalline powder that is practically insoluble in water, and freely soluble in chloroform, methanol and ethanol.

Simvastatin Orally Disintegrating Tablets for oral administration contain either 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg or 80 mg of simvastatin. The tablets begin disintegrating in the mouth within seconds, allowing its contents to be subsequently swallowed. Simvastatin Orally Disintegrating Tablets also contain the following inactive ingredients: crospovidone, glyceryl behenate, hydroxypropyl cellulose, iron oxide yellow (10 mg and 20 mg tablets only), iron oxide red (20 mg and 40 mg tablets only), mint menthol, povidone, silicified microcrystalline cellulose, and sucralose. Butylated hydroxyanisole is added as an preservative.


Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that elevated levels of total cholesterol (total-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), as well as decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) are associated with the development of atherosclerosis and increased cardiovascular risk. Lowering LDL-C decreases this risk. However, the independent effect of raising HDL-C or lowering TG on the risk of coronary and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality has not been determined.


Simvastatin is a lactone that is readily hydrolyzed in vivo to the corresponding β-hydroxyacid, a potent inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase. Inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase is the basis for an assay in pharmacokinetic studies of the β-hydroxyacid metabolites (active inhibitors) and, following base hydrolysis, active plus latent inhibitors (total inhibitors) in plasma following administration of simvastatin.

The pharmacokinetics of simvastatin and simvastatin acid, following administration of the 80 mg Simvastatin Orally Disintegrating tablet and 240 mL water at 1 minute post-dosing, were comparable to those following administration of the simvastatin immediate release 80 mg tablet taken with 240 mL water.

Following an oral dose of 14 C-labeled simvastatin in man, 13% of the dose was excreted in urine and 60% in feces. Plasma concentrations of total radioactivity (simvastatin plus 14 C-metabolites) peaked at 4 hours and declined rapidly to about 10% of peak by 12 hours postdose. Since simvastatin undergoes extensive first-pass extraction in the liver, the availability of the drug to the general circulation is low (<5%).

Both simvastatin and its β-hydroxyacid metabolite are highly bound (approximately 95%) to human plasma proteins. Rat studies indicate that when radiolabeled simvastatin was administered, simvastatin-derived radioactivity crossed the blood-brain barrier.

The major active metabolites of simvastatin present in human plasma are the β-hydroxyacid of simvastatin and its 6′-hydroxy, 6′-hydroxymethyl, and 6′-exomethylene derivatives. Peak plasma concentrations of both active and total inhibitors were attained within 1.3 to 2.4 hours postdose. While the recommended therapeutic dose range is 5 to 80 mg/day, there was no substantial deviation from linearity of AUC of inhibitors in the general circulation with an increase in dose to as high as 120 mg. Relative to the fasting state, the plasma profile of inhibitors was not affected when simvastatin was administered immediately before an American Heart Association recommended low-fat meal.

In a study including 16 elderly patients between 70 and 78 years of age who received simvastatin 40 mg/day, the mean plasma level of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity was increased approximately 45% compared with 18 patients between 18-30 years of age. Clinical study experience in the elderly (n=1522), suggests that there were no overall differences in safety between elderly and younger patients (see PRECAUTIONS, Geriatric Use).

Kinetic studies with another reductase inhibitor, having a similar principal route of elimination, have suggested that for a given dose level higher systemic exposure may be achieved in patients with severe renal insufficiency (as measured by creatinine clearance).

In a study of 12 healthy volunteers, simvastatin at the 80-mg dose had no effect on the metabolism of the probe cytochrome P450 isoform 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates midazolam and erythromycin. This indicates that simvastatin is not an inhibitor of CYP3A4, and, therefore, is not expected to affect the plasma levels of other drugs metabolized by CYP3A4.

Although the mechanism is not fully understood, cyclosporine has been shown to increase the AUC of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. The increase in AUC for simvastatin acid is presumably due, in part, to inhibition of CYP3A4.

The risk of myopathy is increased by high levels of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity in plasma. Potent inhibitors of CYP3A4 can raise the plasma levels of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity and increase the risk of myopathy (see WARNINGS, Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis and PRECAUTIONS, Drug Interactions).

Gemfibrozil: Coadministration of gemfibrozil (600 mg twice daily for 3 days) with simvastatin (40 mg daily) resulted in clinically significant increases in simvastatin acid AUC (185%) and Cmax (112%), possibly due to inhibition of simvastatin acid glucuronidation by gemfibrozil (see WARNINGS, Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis, PRECAUTIONS, Drug Interactions, DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Fenofibrate: Coadministration of fenofibrate (160 mg daily) with simvastatin (80 mg daily) for 7 days had no effect on plasma AUC (and Cmax) of either total HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity or fenofibric acid; there was a modest reduction (approximately 35%) of simvastatin acid which was not considered clinically significant (see WARNINGS, Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis, PRECAUTIONS, Drug Interactions).

Simvastatin is a substrate for CYP3A4 (see PRECAUTIONS, Drug Interactions). Grapefruit juice contains one or more components that inhibit CYP3A4 and can increase the plasma concentrations of drugs metabolized by CYP3A4. In one study 1, 10 subjects consumed 200 mL of double-strength grapefruit juice (one can of frozen concentrate diluted with one rather than 3 cans of water) three times daily for 2 days and an additional 200 mL double-strength grapefruit juice together with, and 30 and 90 minutes following, a single dose of 60 mg simvastatin on the third day. This regimen of grapefruit juice resulted in mean increases in the concentration (as measured by the area under the concentration-time curve) of active and total HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity [measured using a radioenzyme inhibition assay both before (for active inhibitors) and after (for total inhibitors) base hydrolysis] of 2.4-fold and 3.6-fold, respectively, and of simvastatin and its β-hydroxyacid metabolite [measured using a chemical assay — liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry] of 16-fold and 7-fold, respectively. In a second study, 16 subjects consumed one 8 oz glass of single-strength grapefruit juice (one can of frozen concentrate diluted with 3 cans of water) with breakfast for 3 consecutive days and a single dose of 20 mg simvastatin in the evening of the third day. This regimen of grapefruit juice resulted in a mean increase in the plasma concentration (as measured by the area under the concentration-time curve) of active and total HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity [using a validated enzyme inhibition assay different from that used in the first 1 study, both before (for active inhibitors) and after (for total inhibitors) base hydrolysis] of 1.13-fold and 1.18-fold, respectively, and of simvastatin and its β-hydroxyacid metabolite [measured using a chemical assay — liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry] of 1.88-fold and 1.31-fold, respectively. The effect of amounts of grapefruit juice between those used in these two studies on simvastatin pharmacokinetics has not been studied.

Lilja JJ, Kivisto KT, Neuvonen PJ. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1998;64(5):477-83.

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