Lovastatin | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

lovastatin, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Mevacor
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for lovastatin

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1

Lovastatin is used to prevent and treat coronary heart disease. It’s also used to treat high cholesterol. This drug helps decrease the amount of cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood.

2

Lovastatin comes in the form of an immediate-release tablet and an extended-release tablet. Both tablet forms are taken by mouth.

3

The immediate-release tablets are available as a generic drug. The extended-release tablets are available as the brand-name drug Altoprev.

4

The more common side effects of this drug can include stomach pain, nausea, heartburn, constipation, muscle cramps, muscle pain, or headache.

5

Using this drug raises your risk of serious muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness. These problems can lead to kidney damage, and even death. If you have any of these symptoms, you should stop taking lovastatin right away and call your doctor.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Serious muscle damage

Using lovastatin raises your risk of serious muscle problems. These include myopathy, with symptoms that include muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness. Myopathy can lead to rhabdomyolysis. With this condition, muscle breaks down and can cause kidney damage and even death. If you have unexplained muscle pain or weakness, you should stop taking lovastatin right away and call your doctor.

Liver disease

Use of lovastatin raises your risk of liver disease. Your doctor should check how well your liver is working before and during treatment with this drug. Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of liver problems from lovastatin. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor before starting this medication.

What is lovastatin?

Lovastatin is a prescription drug. It’s available in the form of an immediate-release tablet and an extended-release tablet. An immediate-release drug goes into your bloodstream right away. An extended-release drug is slowly released into your bloodstream over time. Both of these tablets are taken by mouth.

The extended-release tablets are available as the brand-name drug Altoprev. The immediate-release tablets are available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.

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

Lovastatin is used to decrease the amount of cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood. If cholesterol builds up in your arteries, it may block the flow of blood to your heart, brain, or other parts of your body. This raises your risk of serious problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. Lowering your cholesterol level lowers these risks.

More Details

How it works

Lovastatin belongs to a class of drugs called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. These are also called statins. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Lovastatin works by slowing the production of cholesterol in your body.

Why it’s used

Lovastatin is used to decrease the amount of cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood. If cholesterol builds up in your arteries, it may block the flow of blood to your heart, brain, or other parts of your body. This raises your risk of serious problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. Lowering your cholesterol level lowers these risks.

Also, if you have heart disease or are at an increased risk of it, this drug can help reduce the likelihood that you will need heart surgery.

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SECTION 2 of 5

lovastatin Side Effects

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More Common Side Effects

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

  • pain in the abdomen (stomach area)

  • nausea

  • heartburn

  • constipation

  • headache

  • weakness/lack of energy

  • muscle pain

  • memory loss/forgetfulness

  • confusion

  • inability to fall asleep

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:

  • Muscle problems. Symptoms can include unexplained:

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

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

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

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

    • rash
    • hives
    • itching
  • Bleeding problems. Symptoms can include:

    • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Flu-like symptoms. Symptoms can include:

    • fever
    • body aches
    • tiredness
    • cough
  • Hoarseness

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

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 5

lovastatin May Interact with Other Medications

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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

Eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice can increase the level of lovastatin in your body. This raises your risk of serious muscle pain or damage. Avoid drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit while taking this drug.

Alcohol interaction

Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of liver problems from lovastatin. If you drink alcohol, tell your doctor before starting this medication.

Medications That Might Interact with This Drug

Antibiotics

Taking certain antibiotics along with lovastatin can cause high levels of lovastatin to build up in your body. This raises your risk of side effects from lovastatin, including serious muscle pain, weakness, and breakdown. Examples of these drugs include:

  • clarithromycin
  • erythromycin
  • telithromycin

Antifungal

Taking certain antifungal drugs along with lovastatin can cause high levels of lovastatin to build up in your body. This raises your risk of side effects from lovastatin, including serious muscle pain, weakness, and breakdown. Examples of these drugs include:

  • itraconazole
  • fluconazole
  • ketoconazole
  • posaconazole

Blood thinners

Warfarin is a type of blood thinner called an anticoagulant. When warfarin and lovastatin are taken together, this can increase the effects of warfarin. This raises your risk of bleeding. Your doctor should closely monitor your INR (a blood test) if you take warfarin along with lovastatin.

Cholesterol drugs

Taking certain drugs used to lower cholesterol levels along with lovastatin raises your risk of severe muscle problems. Some of these drugs should be avoided if you are taking lovastatin. Others may be used with careful monitoring. Talk to your doctor to find out if taking these drugs is safe for you. Examples of these drugs include:

  • niacin
  • gemfibrozil
  • fibrates, such as:
    • fenofibrate
    • fenofibric acid

Gout drugs

Colchicine is used to treat gout. Taking this drug along with lovastatin raises your risk of serious muscle problems. These include muscle pain, weakness, and breakdown.

Heart drugs

Taking certain blood pressure and heart drugs along with lovastatin raises your risk of serious muscle problems. These include muscle pain, weakness, and breakdown. Your doctor may lower your dosage of lovastatin. Your doctor may also stop your use of this drug. Examples of these drugs include:

  • amiodarone
  • diltiazem
  • ranolazine
  • verapamil

Spironolactone can be used to treat several conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart failure. When used with lovastatin, this drug can decrease the amount of natural steroids in your body. This can cause side effects such as tiredness, muscle weakness, reduced sex drive, or mood problems.

Hormone therapy

Danozol is a hormone drug used to treat conditions such as endometriosis, breast disease, or angioedema. Taking this drug with lovastatin raises the risk of severe muscle problems. These problems include muscle pain, weakness, or breakdown. You should avoid taking this drug with lovastatin.

Ulcer drugs

Cimetidine is used to treat ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems. When used with lovastatin, cimetidine can decrease the amount of natural steroids in the body. This can cause side effects such as tiredness, muscle weakness, reduced sex drive, or mood problems.

Other drugs

Cyclosporine is used to suppress the immune system. It may be used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis. It may also be used after solid organ transplant. Taking this drug with lovastatin raises the risk of serious muscle problems. You should avoid taking this drug with 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.
Lovastatin warnings
People with liver disease
People with liver disease

If you have active liver disease, you should not take lovastatin. If you have a history of liver disease, your doctor will check how well your liver is working before and during treatment with this drug. If you have unexplained increases in your liver enzymes during treatment, your doctor will likely stop your use of this drug.

People with diabetes
People with diabetes

Use of lovastatin may increase your blood sugar levels. Talk with your doctor about whether taking this drug is safe for you.

People with kidney  problems
People with kidney problems

You may be at an increased risk of side effects from lovastatin. This is true if your creatinine clearance is less than 30 mL/min and you’re taking doses of lovastatin greater than 20 mg once per day.

Pregnant women
Pregnant women

Lovastatin is a category X pregnancy drug. Like all category X drugs, 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
Women who are breast-feeding

It is not known if lovastatin passes into breast milk. Other medications in this class pass into breast milk and can 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
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 from lovastatin.
  • Your doctor should monitor you if they prescribe the immediate-release tablet. This is due to an increased risk of side effects such as serious muscle problems.
For children
For children

The extended-release tablet has not been studied in children. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

When to call the doctor
When to call the doctor

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

Allergies
Allergies

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 5

How to Take lovastatin (Dosage)

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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?

Prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease

Brand: Altoprev

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 20 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg

Generic: Lovastatin

Form: Oral immediate-release tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Immediate-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20 mg once per day with the evening meal.
    • Dosage range: 10–80 mg per day. Larger doses may be divided and given twice per day.
    • Maximum dose: 80 mg per day.
  • Extended-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20, 40, or 60 mg once per day in the evening at bedtime.
Child Dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication has not been studied in children for this condition. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)
  • Immediate-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20 mg once per day with the evening meal.
    • Dosage range: 10–80 mg per day. Larger doses may be divided and given twice per day.
    • Your doctor should monitor you if they prescribe this form. This is due to an increased risk of side effects such as serious muscle problems.
  • Extended-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20 mg once per day, taken in the evening at bedtime.
Special considerations
  • If you are taking danazol, diltiazem, or verapamil with lovastatin:
    • Maximum lovastatin dose: 20 mg once per day.
  • If you are taking amiodarone with lovastatin:
    • Maximum lovastatin dose: 40 mg once per day.
  • If you have kidney problems: Your doctor should carefully monitor you if your creatinine clearance is less than 30 mL/min and your dose of lovastatin is greater than 20 mg once per day.

Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol)

Brand: Altoprev

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 20 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg

Generic: Lovastatin

Form: Oral immediate-release tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Immediate-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20 mg once per day with the evening meal.
    • Dosage range: 10–80 mg per day. Larger doses may be divided and given twice per day.
    • Maximum dose: 80 mg per day.
  • Extended-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20, 40, or 60 mg once per day in the evening at bedtime.
Child Dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication has not been studied in children for this condition. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)
  • Immediate-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20 mg once per day with the evening meal.
    • Dosage range: 10–80 mg per day. Larger doses may be divided and given twice per day.
    • Your doctor should monitor you if they prescribe this form. This is due to an increased risk of side effects such as serious muscle problems.
  • Extended-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20 mg once per day, taken in the evening at bedtime.
Special considerations
  • If you are taking danazol, diltiazem, or verapamil with lovastatin:
    • Maximum lovastatin dose: 20 mg once per day.
  • If you are taking amiodarone with lovastatin:
    • Maximum lovastatin dose: 40 mg once per day.
  • If you have kidney problems: Your doctor should carefully monitor you if your creatinine clearance is less than 30 mL/min and your dose of lovastatin is greater than 20 mg once per day.

Heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia in adolescents

Brand: Altoprev

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 20 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg

Generic: Lovastatin

Form: Oral immediate-release tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Immediate-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20 mg once per day with the evening meal.
    • Dosage range: 10–80 mg per day. Larger doses may be divided and given twice per day.
    • Maximum dose: 80 mg per day.
Child Dosage (ages 0–9 years)
  • Immediate-release tablet only
    • This form of lovastatin has not been studied in children. It should not be used in people younger than 10 years.
Child Dosage (ages 10–17 years)
  • Immediate-release tablet only
    • Dosage range: 10–40 mg per day.
    • Maximum dose: 40 mg per day.
Child Dosage (ages 0–17 years)
  • Extended-release tablet only
    • This form of lovastatin has not been studied in children. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.
Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)
  • Immediate-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20 mg once per day with the evening meal.
    • Dosage range: 10–80 mg per day. Larger doses may be divided and given twice per day.
    • Your doctor should monitor you if they prescribe this form. This is due to an increased risk of side effects such as serious muscle problems.
  • Extended-release tablet
    • Initial dose: 20 mg once per day, taken in the evening at bedtime.
Special considerations
  • If you are taking danazol, diltiazem, or verapamil with lovastatin:
    • Maximum lovastatin dose: 20 mg once per day.
  • If you are taking amiodarone with lovastatin:
    • Maximum lovastatin dose: 40 mg once per day.
  • If you have kidney problems: Your doctor should carefully monitor you if your creatinine clearance is less than 30 mL/min and your dose of lovastatin is greater than 20 mg once 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
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

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 may not be controlled. Over time, high cholesterol can lead to 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 can include:

  • pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • muscle pain and weakness

If you think you’ve taken too much of this 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 right away.

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.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your cholesterol levels should improve. You won’t be able to feel this. Your doctor will do blood tests to check your cholesterol to make sure the drug is working.

Lovastatin is used for long-term treatment.

Each form of the tablets has different food guidelines

Lovastatin immediate-release tablets should be taken with your evening meal. Lovastatin extended-release tablets should be taken without food if possible.

Take each form of the tablets at the right time

Lovastatin immediate-release tablets should be taken with the evening meal. Lovastatin extended-release tablets should be taken in the evening at bedtime.

Store lovastatin carefully

Store this drug carefully.

  • Store the extended-release tablets at a temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C). Store the immediate-release tablets at a temperature between 41°F and 77°F (5°C and 25°C).
  • When traveling, you can store either tablet for a day or two at a temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°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

Your doctor will do blood tests during your treatment with lovastatin. These tests will help make sure the medication is helping to control your cholesterol levels. These tests may include:

  • Periodic fasting cholesterol check. This test checks your cholesterol levels. It will be done from time to time during your treatment with this drug.
  • Liver function test. This test checks for any signs of liver injury. It’s done before and during your treatment with lovastatin.
  • Kidney function test. This test checks for any signs of liver injury. It’s done before and during your treatment with lovastatin.
  • Creatine kinase. This test checks for increased levels of this enzyme. Higher levels mean that muscle damage is occurring. If this test shows that your levels are too high, your doctor should have you stop taking this drug right away.
  • Blood sugar/A1c. This test checks blood sugar levels. It’s done for people with diabetes during the first few months of treatment with this drug.

Your diet

To help manage your cholesterol levels, your diet should be low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Ask your doctor to suggest an eating plan that’s right for you.

Hidden costs

You will need to have regular blood tests during treatment with lovastatin. These tests will check your cholesterol level and your liver, kidney, and heart function. They will also check your creatine kinase level and blood sugar levels.

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.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does lovastatin Cost?

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Lowest price for lovastatin

Walgreens $5.00
Kroger Pharmacy $7.68
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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for lovastatin on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for lovastatin on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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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 12, 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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