Niacin/lovastatin | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

lovastatin-niacin, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Advicor
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for lovastatin-niacin

Oral tablet
1

Niacin/lovastatin is used to lower the amount of cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood. Lowering your cholesterol level can reduce your risk of stroke or heart attack. It can also decrease the chance that you’ll need heart surgery if you have heart disease.

2

This drug comes as a tablet you take by mouth. It’s a combination of two medications: niacin and lovastatin.

3

Niacin/lovastatin is available as the brand-name drug Advicor. It’s not available as a generic drug.

4

The more common side effects of taking this drug include stomach problems, flushing, or headache.

5
In some cases, niacin/lovastatin can cause serious side effects. These include liver problems, severe muscle pain, or allergic reactions.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Liver disease

Use of niacin/lovastatin may increase your risk of liver disease. Your doctor should check how well your liver is working before and during treatment with this drug. You shouldn’t use this medication if you have active liver disease or unexplained increases in your liver enzymes.

Myopathy/rhabdomyolysis (muscle damage and pain)

Using niacin/lovastatin raises your risk of a condition called myopathy, which causes muscle weakness. Use of this drug also raises your risk of rhabdomyolysis. This is a serious condition that involves the breakdown of muscle tissue. Symptoms of both conditions include muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness. If you have any of these symptoms, you should stop taking this medication right away and call your doctor.

Drug features

Niacin/lovastatin is a combination drug. It contains two drugs: extended-release niacin and lovastatin. (Extended-release drugs are released slowly into the bloodstream over time.) It’s important to know about all the drugs in the combination because each drug may affect you in a different way.

Niacin/lovastatin comes in the form of a tablet you take by mouth. It’s available as a brand-name drug called Advicor. It’s not available as a generic drug.

Niacin/lovastatin may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it’s used

Niacin/lovastatin is used to decrease the amount of cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood. This lowers your risk of stroke and heart attack. It also reduces the chance that you’ll need heart surgery if you have heart disease. Niacin/lovastatin is used together with diet, weight loss, and exercise.

How it works

Niacin/lovastatin belongs to a class of drugs called lipid-altering agents. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

Niacin/lovastatin belongs to a class of drugs called lipid-altering agents. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

The two drugs in this medication, niacin and lovastatin, work in different ways. But they both help improve your cholesterol levels:

  • Niacin works by helping to lower the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood. It also helps to increase the amount of HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • Lovastatin works by lowering the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood.
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SECTION 2 of 4

lovastatin-niacin Side Effects

Oral tablet

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects that can occur with use of niacin/lovastatin include:

  • flushing (reddening of the skin)

  • warm or tingling skin

  • rash

  • weakness

  • lack of energy

  • headache

  • back pain

  • gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain

  • increased blood sugar, with symptoms such as excessive thirst or frequent urination

  • muscle aches

  • infection, with symptoms such as fever, chills, or sore throat

  • flu-like symptoms, such as fever, body aches, tiredness, or cough

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Major muscle problems. Symptoms can include:

    • unexplained muscle pain or tenderness
    • muscle weakness
  • Liver problems. Symptoms can include:

    • dark-colored urine
    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
  • Heart problems. Symptoms can include:

    • fast heartbeat
  • Stomach problems. Symptoms can include:

    • pain in the upper right part of the abdomen (stomach area)
    • nausea
    • loss of appetite
    • light-colored stools
  • Central nervous system problems. Symptoms can include:

    • lack of energy
    • weakness
    • extreme tiredness
    • dizziness
  • Bleeding problems. Symptoms can include:

    • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Hoarseness
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Having hot drinks while taking niacin/lovastatin may increase your risk of flushing and itching. Avoid having hot drinks shortly before and after you take your dose of niacin/lovastatin.

Niacin/lovastatin doesn’t cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

lovastatin-niacin May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Niacin/lovastatin can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Food interactions

Avoid drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit while taking this drug.

Alcohol interaction

Having drinks that contain alcohol raises your risk of liver problems from niacin/lovastatin. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor before starting this medication.

Also, drinking alcohol while taking niacin/lovastatin may increase your risk of flushing and itching. Avoid drinking alcohol 20–30 minutes before and after you take your dose of niacin/lovastatin.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Angina drugs

Ranolazine is used to treat angina (chest pain). Taking this drug with niacin/lovastatin raises your risk of certain muscle problems. These include muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness.

Antibiotics

When taken with niacin/lovastatin, certain antibiotics can increase the amount of niacin/lovastatin in your body. This raises your risk of side effects, such as flushing or muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness.Don’t take these drugs with niacin/lovastatin. Examples of these drugs include:

  • clarithromycin
  • erythromycin
  • telithromycin

Antifungal drugs

When taken with niacin/lovastatin, certain antifungal drugs can increase the amount of niacin/lovastatin in your body. This raises your risk of side effects, such as flushing or muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness. Niacin/lovastatin shouldn’t be used with these drugs. Examples of these drugs include:

  • fluconazole
  • itraconazole
  • ketoconazole
  • posaconazole

Blood-thinning drugs

Warfarin is used to thin the blood. When taken with niacin/lovastatin, this drug raises your risk of bleeding. Your doctor should check your risk of bleeding when you first start taking niacin/lovastatin and with any dosage change.

Cholesterol drugs

Other cholesterol drugs raise your risk of certain muscle problems when taken with niacin/lovastatin. These muscle problems include muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness. Examples of these drugs include:

  • gemfibrozil
  • fenofibrate
  • fenofibric acid

Also, certain drugs that lower LDL cholesterol are called bile acid sequestrants. When taken with niacin/lovastatin, these drugs can lower the amount of niacin/lovastatin in your body. This can keep it from working well. Examples of these drugs include:

  • colestipol
  • cholestyramine

Depression drugs

Nefazodone is used to treat depression. Don’t use this drug while taking niacin/lovastatin.

Gout drugs

Colchicine is used to treat gout. Using this drug with niacin/lovastatin raises your risk of muscle problems. These muscle problems include muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness.

Heart rhythm drugs

Amiodarone is used to treat heart rhythm problems. Taking this drug with niacin/lovastatin raises your risk of muscle problems. These muscle problems include muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness.

Hepatitis C drugs

Certain drugs used to treat hepatitis C shouldn’t be used with niacin/lovastatin. Examples of these drugs include:

  • telaprevir
  • boceprevir
  • dasabuvir
  • ombitasvir
  • paritaprevir

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) drugs

Certain drugs used to treat HIV shouldn’t be used with niacin/lovastatin. Examples of these drugs include:

  • cobicistat
  • atazanavir
  • darunavir
  • ritonavir

Immunosuppressant drugs

Cyclosporine is used to suppress the immune system. Taking this drug with niacin/lovastatin raises your risk of muscle problems. These muscle problems include muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness.

Other drugs

Certain drugs increase your risk of muscle problems when taken with niacin/lovastatin. These muscle problems include muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness. Examples of these drugs include:

  • calcium channel blockers, such as:
    • diltiazem
    • verapamil
  • danazol, a hormone medication

When taken with niacin/lovastatin, other drugs can cause levels of hormones and steroids that your body makes to be too low. Examples of these drugs include:

  • spironolactone
  • cimetidine

Vitamins and nutritional supplements

Taking vitamins and nutritional supplements that contain niacin along with niacin/lovastatin raises your risk of side effects from niacin/lovastatin.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with liver disease

Before taking this medication, talk to your doctor about whether it’s safe for you. You shouldn’t take this drug if you have active liver disease or unexplained increases in your liver enzymes.

People with blood sugar problems

If you have diabetes, niacin/lovastatin may increase your blood sugar level. Talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

People with kidney disease

You may be at increased risk of side effects. This is true if you have severe kidney disease and are taking doses of lovastatin (one of the drugs in this medication) that are greater than 20 mg once per day.

People with heart problems

If you have chest pain or are at risk of heart attack, niacin/lovastatin may worsen your current condition. Talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

People with gout

Use of niacin/lovastatin may increase your uric acid levels in your body. This raises your risk of gout symptoms.

Pregnant women

Niacin/lovastatin is a category X pregnancy drug. This means that niacin/lovastatin should never be used during pregnancy.

Women of childbearing age should use reliable birth control while taking this drug.

Women who are breast-feeding

Niacin/lovastatin may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

For children

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

Allergies

Niacin/lovastatin can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing or swallowing
  • swelling of your face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • rash
  • hives
  • itching

If you have a reaction, call your doctor or the local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take lovastatin-niacin (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

High cholesterol

Brand: Advicor

Form: oral tablet
Strengths:
  • 500 mg niacin ER (extended-release)/20 mg lovastatin
  • 750 mg niacin ER/20 mg lovastatin
  • 1,000 mg niacin ER/20 mg lovastatin
  • 1,000 mg niacin ER/40 mg lovastatin
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older):
  • Typical initial dosage: One 500 mg niacin ER/20 mg lovastatin tablet once per day.
  • Maximum dosage: 2,000 mg niacin ER/40 mg lovastatin once per day.
  • Dosage increases: Your doctor should increase your dosage by no more than 500 mg of niacin ER per day. Your dosage may be changed at 4-week intervals.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years):

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older):

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Dosing for Special Populations/Special Considerations

Kidney problems: Your doctor may need to monitor your treatment carefully. This is true If you have a creatinine clearance of <30 mL/min, and your dosage of this drug provides more than 20 mg of lovastatin per day.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Niacin/lovastatin comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

Your cholesterol levels will likely remain high. This puts you at risk of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug include:

  • dizziness
  • fast heart rate
  • shortness of breath
  • fainting
  • muscle pain

If you think you’ve taken too much of the drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

If you haven’t taken the medication for more than 7 days, talk to your doctor before taking your next dose. You should be restarted on the lowest dose of this drug.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your cholesterol levels should be lower. Your doctor will check your cholesterol levels using a blood test.

Niacin/lovastatin is used for long-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking niacin/lovastatin
take with a low-fat snack Niacin/lovastatin should be taken with a low-fat snack
should be taken at bedtime Niacin/lovastatin should be taken at bedtime
This tablet shouldn’t be cut or crushed This tablet shouldn’t be cut or crushed
Store this drug carefully Store this drug carefully See Details
A prescription for this medication is refillable A prescription for this medication is refillable See Details
Travel Travel See Details
Clinical monitoring Clinical monitoring See Details
Your diet Your diet See Details
Not Usually Stocked Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.
Hidden costs Hidden costs See Details
Insurance Insurance See Details

Store this drug carefully

  • Store niacin/lovastatin at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Throughout your treatment with niacin/lovastatin, your doctor will do blood tests to check your:

  • cholesterol level
  • kidney function
  • liver function
  • creatinine kinase (CK) level
  • hemoglobin A1C level
  • blood sugar level
  • uric acid level

Your diet

Your doctor should start you on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Be sure to follow this diet to help lower your cholesterol levels.

Hidden costs

You’ll need to have blood tests to check your:

  • cholesterol level
  • kidney function
  • liver function
  • creatinine kinase (CK) level
  • hemoglobin A1C level
  • blood sugar level
  • uric acid level

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor will need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

What does the pill look like?

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on October 10, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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