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

pravastatin, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Pravachol
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Highlights for pravastatin

Oral tablet
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Pravastatin is a drug called a statin. It’s used to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood, and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. It’s used along with a healthy diet and other lifestyle changes to help decrease risk of a heart attack or stroke.

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Pravastatin comes in the form of a tablet you take by mouth.

3

Pravastatin is available as a brand-name drug called Pravachol. It’s also available as a generic drug.

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The more common side effects of this drug can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or headache.

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The most serious side effect of pravastatin is muscle breakdown. This is called myopathy or rhabdomyolysis. If you feel muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness while you are taking pravastatin, call your doctor right away.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Muscle problems

This drug can cause muscle breakdown. The risk for this is greater if you are over the age of 65 years, if you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), or if you have kidney disease. Tell your doctor right away if you have unexplained muscle soreness, pain, or weakness while taking this drug.

Liver problems

Lab tests of your liver function may be abnormally high while taking this drug. Your doctor will monitor this while you take this drug.

What is pravastatin?

This drug is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of a tablet you take by mouth.

This drug is a brand-name drug. It’s also 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.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications. These may include bile acid resins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

Why it's used

This drug is used to:

  • lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels

More Details

How it works

This drug 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.

Statins block an enzyme known as HMG Co-A reductase to help lower cholesterol levels.

Why it's used

This drug is used to:

  • lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels

By improving cholesterol levels, this drug can help slow the development of heart disease. It can also reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. This drug should be used in combination with a healthy diet, weight loss, and exercise.

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pravastatin Side Effects

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More Common Side Effects

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

  • muscle pain

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • diarrhea

  • headache

  • common cold

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

    • tiredness or weakness
    • loss of appetite
    • pain in the upper abdomen (stomach area)
    • dark-colored urine
    • yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug 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.
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pravastatin May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Pravastatin 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.

Alcohol interaction

If you have more than two alcoholic drinks per day, the use of pravastatin raises your risk of serious liver damage. Talk to your doctor about whether you can drink alcohol while taking pravastatin.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Antibiotics

When taken with pravastatin, certain antibiotics can increase the risk of myopathy (muscle problems) or rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown). Your doctor may change your dose of pravastatin, or have you avoid these drugs. Examples of these drugs include: 

  • clarithromycin
  • erythromycin
  • telithromycin

Cholesterol drugs

When taken with pravastatin, certain cholesterol drugs can increase the risk of myopathy (muscle problems) or rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown). Your doctor may change your dose of pravastatin, or have you avoid these drugs. Examples of these drugs include:

  • gemfibrozil
  • fenofibrate
  • niacin

Gout drugs

Colchicine is used to treat gout. When taken with pravastatin, this drug can increase the risk of myopathy (muscle problems) or rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown). Your doctor may change your dose of pravastatin, or have you avoid colchicine.

Immunosuppressant drugs

Cyclosporine is used to reduce the strength of the immune system. Using this drug with pravastatin can increase the amount of pravastatin in your body. This raises your risk of myopathy (muscle problems) or rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown). Your doctor may change your dose of pravastatin, or have you avoid this drug.

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.
Drug warnings
kidney problems
People with kidney problems

You may not be able to clear this drug from your body as well. This may increase the levels of this drug in your body and cause more side effects (such as muscle problems). Let your doctor know if you have active kidney problems or a history of kidney disease. Your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of this drug for you.

liver problems
People with liver problems

This drug can cause liver problems, which could lead to liver failure. Let your doctor know if you have a history of liver disease. Your doctor can let you know if this drug is safe for you. If you have active liver disease, you should not take this drug.

underactive thyroid
People with underactive thyroid

If you have hypothyroidism that isn’t well controlled, you may be at increased risk for muscle problems when taking this drug.

Pregnant women
Pregnant women

This drug is a pregnancy category X drug. Category X drugs should never be used during pregnancy.

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

breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

This drug should not be used in women who are breast-feeding their child. This drug passes into breast milk and may cause dangerous side effects in a child who is breast-fed.

seniors
For seniors

If you are over the age of 65 years, you may be at higher risk of developing muscle problems while taking this drug.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

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

allergies
Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • rash
  • itching
  • hives 

If you have a reaction, call your doctor right away. 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).

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How to Take pravastatin (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 (hyperlipidemia)

Brand: Pravachol

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 20 mg, 40 mg, 80 mg

Generic: pravastatin

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, 80 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Typical starting dosage: 40 mg once per day. If a higher dosage is needed, 80 mg once per day is recommended.

Child dosage (ages 14–17 years)

Typical starting dosage: 40 mg once per day. Doses greater than 40 mg have not been studied in children.

Child dosage (ages 8–13 years)

Typical starting dosage: 20 mg once per day. Doses greater than 20 mg have not been studied in children in this age range.

Child dosage (ages 0–7 years)

This medication has not been studied in children younger than 8 years. It should not be used in children younger than 8 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 increases your risk of side effects.

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

Special considerations

Kidney disease: A starting dosage of 10 mg once per day is recommended in patients with severe kidney disease.

Heart disease prevention

Brand: Pravachol

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 20 mg, 40 mg, 80 mg

Generic: pravastatin

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, 80 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Typical starting dosage: 40 mg once per day. If a higher dosage is needed, 80 mg once per day is recommended.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication has not been studied in children younger than 18 years. It should not be used in children 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 increases your risk of side effects.

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

Special considerations

Kidney disease: A starting dosage of 10 mg once per day is recommended in patients with severe kidney disease.

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

This drug 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 may not be controlled. This puts you at higher 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 can include:

  • severe pain in the abdomen (stomach area)
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • muscle pain and weakness

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.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your cholesterol levels should improve. You won’t feel this drug working, but your doctor will check your cholesterol levels using blood tests. Your doctor may adjust your dosage based on the results of these tests.

This drug is used for long-term treatment.

Store this drug carefully

  • Store this drug at around 77ºF (25ºC). Keep it in a container with the lid tightly closed.
  • Protect this drug from light.
  • 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 monitor your health while you take this drug. Your doctor will check your cholesterol level, and your liver and kidney function. This will help make sure you’re meeting your cholesterol goals. It will also help make sure your liver and kidneys are working correctly. 

This monitoring may be done using blood tests:

  • Lipid panel. This test can check your cholesterol levels.
  • Liver function tests. These tests can check how well your liver is working. If your liver isn’t working well, your doctor may have you stop taking this drug.
  • Kidney function tests. These tests can check how well your kidneys are working. If your kidneys aren’t working well, your doctor may lower your dosage of this drug.

Your diet

Talk to your doctor about what foods you should eat. Following a heart-healthy diet can help lower your cholesterol.

Hidden costs

Your health will be monitored while you take this drug. Tests can include blood tests to check how well your liver and kidneys are working, and your cholesterol levels. The cost of these tests depends on your insurance coverage.

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.

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How Much Does pravastatin Cost?

Oral tablet

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

Show Sources

  • Pravastatin sodium. (n.d.). Drugs@FDA website. Retrieved August 14, 2015, from http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/drugsatfda/index.cfm?fuseaction=Search.Overview&DrugName=PRAVASTATIN%20SODIUM
  • Pravachol tablet. (2013, August). Retrieved August 14, 2015, from http://packageinserts.bms.com/pi/pi_pravachol.pdf

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 November 2, 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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