Generic Name: simvastatin (sim-va-STAT-in)
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Nov 22, 2020.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antihyperlipidemic
Pharmacologic Class: HMG-COA Reductase Inhibitor
Uses for simvastatin
Simvastatin is used together with a proper diet to treat high cholesterol and triglyceride (fat) levels in the blood. Simvastatin may help prevent medical problems (eg, heart attacks, strokes) caused by clogged blood vessels. Simvastatin may also be used to prevent certain types of heart problems in patients with risk factors for heart problems.
Simvastatin belongs to the group of medicines called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, or statins. It works to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood by blocking an enzyme that is needed to make cholesterol. 1
Simvastatin is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using simvastatin
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For simvastatin, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to simvastatin or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of simvastatin in children 10 to 17 years of age. However, safety and efficacy of simvastatin in children younger than 10 years of age have not been established.
Teenage girls taking simvastatin should be counseled on appropriate birth control methods to prevent pregnancy.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of simvastatin in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related muscle problems, which may require caution in patients receiving simvastatin.
Studies in women breastfeeding have demonstrated harmful infant effects. An alternative to this medication should be prescribed or you should stop breastfeeding while using simvastatin.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking simvastatin, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using simvastatin with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using simvastatin with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Bempedoic Acid
- Dabigatran Etexilate
- Eslicarbazepine Acetate
- Fenofibric Acid
- Fusidic Acid
Using simvastatin with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Interferon Beta
- Oat Bran
- St John's Wort
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using simvastatin with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use simvastatin, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
- Cranberry Juice
- Grapefruit Juice
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of simvastatin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Alcohol abuse, or history of or
- Chinese ancestry or
- Diabetes or
- Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), not well-controlled or
- Liver disease, history of—Use with caution. May cause side effects to become worse.
- Electrolyte disorders, severe or
- Endocrine disorders, severe or
- Epilepsy (seizures), not well-controlled or
- Hypotension (low blood pressure) or
- Kidney disease, severe or
- Metabolic disorders, severe or
- Sepsis (severe infection)—Patients with these conditions may be at risk for muscle or kidney problems.
- Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol in the blood), familial homozygous—Dosage may be adjusted in this condition.
- Liver disease, active or
- Liver enzymes elevated—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
Proper use of simvastatin
Take simvastatin only as directed by your doctor. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.
If you are using the oral suspension:
- Take simvastatin on the evening, on an empty stomach.
- Shake the oral suspension well for at least 20 seconds before using it. Use a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup to measure the right dose.
In addition to simvastatin, your doctor may change your diet to one that is low in fat, sugar, and cholesterol. Carefully follow your doctor's orders about any special diet.
If you are taking diltiazem (Cardizem®), dronedarone (Multaq®), or verapamil (Calan®, Isoptin®, Verelan®) together with simvastatin, your simvastatin dose should not be higher than 10 milligrams (mg) per day, unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Do not use more than 20 mg per day of simvastatin together with amiodarone (Cordarone®), amlodipine (Norvasc®), lomitapide (Juxtapid™), or ranolazine (Ranexa®). When used together with higher doses of simvastatin, these medicines may increase your risk of muscle injury and could result in kidney problems.
Tell your doctor if you regularly drink grapefruit juice. Drinking large amounts of grapefruit juice (more than 1 quart each day) while taking simvastatin may increase your risk of muscle injury and could result in kidney problems.
Do not drink large amounts of alcohol with simvastatin. This could cause unwanted effects on the liver.
The dose of simvastatin will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of simvastatin. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage forms (suspension or tablets):
- For high cholesterol:
- Adults—At first, 10 to 20 milligrams (mg) once a day in the evening. For high risk patients who may develop heart disease, your doctor may start your dose at 40 mg per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 40 mg per day.
- Children 10 to 17 years of age—At first, 10 mg once a day in the evening. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 40 mg per day.
- Children younger than 10 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For high cholesterol:
If you miss a dose of simvastatin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions while using simvastatin
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Using simvastatin while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
Do not use simvastatin if you are also taking boceprevir (Victrelis®), cobicistat-containing products (Stribild®), cyclosporine (Gengraf®, Neoral®, Sandimmune®), danazol (Danocrine®), gemfibrozil (Lopid®), nefazodone (Serzone®), telaprevir (Incivek®), certain antibiotics (eg, clarithromycin, daptomycin, erythromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, telithromycin, voriconazole, Nizoral®), or medicines to treat HIV/AIDS (eg, atazanavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, Crixivan®, Kaletra®, Lexiva®, Norvir®, Prezista®, Reyataz®). Using these medicines together with simvastatin may increase your risk of muscle injury and could result in kidney problems.
Chinese patients who are taking large amounts of niacin (greater than or equal to 1 gram or 1000 milligrams per day) together with simvastatin may have an increased risk for muscle injury. Talk to your doctor if you are Chinese or have Chinese ancestry and take large amounts of niacin (Niacor®, Niaspan®). You may need a different dose of simvastatin.
Call your doctor right away if you have unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness, especially if you also have unusual tiredness or a fever. These may be symptoms of serious muscle problems, such as myopathy or immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM). Myopathy is more common when high doses of simvastatin (eg, 80 milligrams) are used, but some people get myopathy with lower doses.
Call your doctor right away if you have dark-colored urine, diarrhea, a fever, muscle cramps or spasms, muscle pain or stiffness, or feel very tired or weak. These could be symptoms of a serious muscle problem called rhabdomyolysis, which can cause kidney problems.
Call your doctor right away if you get a headache, stomach pain, vomiting, dark-colored urine, loss of appetite, weight loss, general feeling of tiredness or weakness, light-colored stools, upper right stomach pain, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of liver damage.
Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using simvastatin. You may need to stop using simvastatin if you have major surgery, a major injury, or you develop other serious health problems.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Simvastatin side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- Bladder pain
- bloody or cloudy urine
- blurred vision
- body aches or pain
- dark-colored urine
- difficult, burning, or painful urination
- difficulty with breathing
- difficulty with moving
- dry mouth
- ear congestion
- flushed, dry skin
- frequent urge to urinate
- fruit-like breath odor
- increased hunger
- increased thirst
- increased urination
- joint pain
- loss of consciousness
- lower back or side pain
- muscle cramps, spasms, stiffness, pain, tenderness, wasting, or weakness
- runny or stuffy nose
- sore throat
- swollen joints
- trouble breathing
- unexplained weight loss
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Incidence not known
- Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
- burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
- difficulty with swallowing
- general tiredness and weakness
- large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
- light-colored stools
- loss of appetite
- pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
- pale skin
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- red skin lesions, often with a purple center
- red, irritated eyes
- skin rash, hives, or itching
- sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
- tightness in the chest
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- upper right abdominal or stomach pain
- weakness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet
- yellow eyes or skin
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Acid or sour stomach
- burning feeling in the chest or stomach
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
- feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
- full feeling
- lack or loss of strength
- pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
- passing gas
- sensation of spinning
- skin rash, encrusted, scaly, and oozing
- stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
- tenderness in the stomach area
- trouble sleeping
Incidence not known
- Being forgetful
- discoloration of the skin
- hair loss or thinning of the hair
- inability to have or keep an erection
- loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Frequently asked questions
More about simvastatin
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- Drug class: statins
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