Statin safety: lessons from new drug applications for marketed statins

Am J Cardiol. 2006 Apr 17;97(8A):44C-51C. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2005.12.009. Epub 2006 Feb 2.


Safety has become a central issue in the management of dyslipidemia with statins. A review of New Drug Applications (NDAs) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Web site was conducted for all 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, or statins, with a major focus on cerivastatin and rosuvastatin. The findings provide insight into the incidence of adverse events for this class of drugs and support the significant benefits of statins relative to associated risks. These data delineate the nature of statin associated liver, muscle, and renal adverse events. Although transaminase levels increase in a dose-related fashion with statins, a definitive correlation between statin therapy and hepatotoxicity is not supported by statin NDA data. Statin-induced myopathy is a relatively rare event (1 in 1,000) and rhabdomyolysis is even rarer (1 in 10,000). The cerivastatin NDA, along with its supplementary NDA, was the first to demonstrate a clear statin dose-response relation with myopathy and a threshold effect above which myotoxicity increases significantly. Proteinuria was identified as a consequence of statin therapy with data from the rosuvastatin NDA, and subsequent analysis suggests a class effect that is dose related but transient. Studies in cell culture suggest the mechanism is a pharmacologic effect on the proximal renal tubule. The available evidence suggests no clear renal toxicity with currently approved statins, because no declines in renal function or glomerular filtration rate have been documented over time. Overall, currently marketed statins have a very favorable benefit-to-risk relation with respect to liver, muscle, and renal issues.

MeSH terms

  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Approval*
  • Hematuria / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Investigational New Drug Application*
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Muscular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Muscular Diseases / metabolism
  • Proteinuria / chemically induced
  • Transaminases / metabolism
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Creatinine
  • Transaminases
  • Creatine Kinase