Clinical pharmacokinetics of fluvastatin

Clin Pharmacokinet. 2001;40(4):263-81. doi: 10.2165/00003088-200140040-00003.


Fluvastatin, the first fully synthetic HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, has been shown to reduce cholesterol in patients with hyperlipidaemia, to prevent subsequent coronary events in patients with established coronary heart disease, and to alter endothelial function and plaque stability in animal models. Fluvastatin is relatively hydrophilic, compared with the semisynthetic HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, and, therefore, it is extensively absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. After absorption, it is nearly completely extracted and metabolised in the liver to 2 hydroxylated metabolites and an N-desisopropyl metabolite, which are excreted in the bile. Approximately 95% of a dose is recovered in the faeces, with 60% of a dose recovered as the 3 metabolites. The 6-hydroxy and N-desisopropyl fluvastatin metabolites are exclusively generated by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2C9 and do not accumulate in the blood. CYP2C9, CYP3A4, CYP2C8 and CYP2D6 form the 5-hydroxy fluvastatin metabolite. Because of its hydrophilic nature and extensive plasma protein binding, fluvastatin has a small volume of distribution with minimal concentrations in extrahepatic tissues. The pharmacokinetics of fluvastatin are not influenced by renal function, due to its extensive metabolism and biliary excretion; limited data in patients with cirrhosis suggest a 30% reduction in oral clearance. Age and gender do not appear to affect the disposition of fluvastatin. CYP3A4 inhibitors (erythromycin, ketoconazole and itraconazole) have no effect on fluvastatin pharmacokinetics, in contrast to other HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors which are primarily metabolised by CYP3A and are subject to potential drug interactions with CYP3A inhibitors. Coadministration of fluvastatin with gastrointestinal agents such as cholestyramine, and gastric acid regulating agents (H2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors), significantly alters fluvastatin disposition by decreasing and increasing bioavailability, respectively. The nonspecific CYP inducer rifampicin (rifampin) significantly increases fluvastatin oral clearance. In addition to being a CYP2C9 substrate, fluvastatin demonstrates inhibitory effects on this isoenzyme in vitro and in vivo. In human liver microsomes, fluvastatin significantly inhibits the hydroxylation of 2 CYP2C9 substrates, tolbutamide and diclofenac. The oral clearances of the CYP2C9 substrates diclofenac, tolbutamide, glibenclamide (glyburide) and losartan are reduced by 15 to 25% when coadministered with fluvastatin. These alterations have not been shown to be clinically significant. There are inadequate data evaluating the potential interaction of fluvastatin with warfarin and phenytoin, 2 CYP2C9 substrates with a narrow therapeutic index, and caution is recommended when using fluvastatin with these agents. Fluvastatin does not appear to have a significant effect on other CYP isoenzymes or P-glycoprotein-mediated transport in vivo.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / chemistry
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Drug Interactions
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / pharmacokinetics*
  • Fluvastatin
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics*
  • Indoles / chemistry
  • Indoles / pharmacokinetics*


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Indoles
  • Fluvastatin