POM: Prescription only medicine
This information is intended for use by health professionals
Simvastatin 40 mg film-coated tablets
Each film-coated tablet contains 40 mg of simvastatin.
Excipients with known effect
Each film-coated tablets contains 116.4 mg lactose (as monohydrate).
For the full list of excipients, see section 6.1.
Red-brown coated, oval, biconvex tablet with score line on both sides, coded “40” on one side.
The tablet can be divided into equal doses.
Treatment of primary hypercholesterolaemia or mixed dyslipidaemia, as an adjunct to diet, when response to diet and other non-pharmacological treatments (e.g. exercise, weight reduction) is inadequate.
Treatment of homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia (HoFH) as an adjunct to diet and other lipid-lowering treatments (e.g. LDL apheresis) or if such treatments are not appropriate.
Reduction of cardiovascular mortality and morbidity in patients with manifest atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus, with either normal or increased cholesterol levels, as an adjunct to correction of other risk factors and other cardioprotective therapy (see section 5.1).
The dose range is 5-80 mg/day of simvastatin given orally as a single dose in the evening. Adjustments of dose, if required, should be made at intervals of not less than 4 weeks, to a maximum of 80 mg/day given as a single dose in the evening. The 80 mg dose is only recommended in patients with severe hypercholesterolaemia and at high risk for cardiovascular complications who have not achieved their treatment goals on lower doses and when the benefits are expected to outweigh the potential risks (see sections 4.4 and 5.1).
The patient should be placed on a standard cholesterol-lowering diet, and should continue on this diet during treatment with simvastatin. The usual starting dose is 10-20 mg/day given as a single dose in the evening. Patients who require a large reduction in LDL-C (more than 45%) may be started at 20-40 mg/day given as a single dose in the evening. Adjustments of dose, if required, should be made as specified above.
Homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia
Based on the results of a controlled clinical study, the recommended starting dose is simvastatin 40 mg/day in the evening. Simvastatin should be used as an adjunct to other lipid-lowering treatments (e.g. LDL apheresis) in these patients or if such treatments are unavailable.
In patients taking lomitapide concomitantly with simvastatin, the dose of simvastatin must not exceed 40 mg/day (see sections 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5).
The usual dose of simvastatin is 20 to 40 mg/day given as a single dose in the evening in patients at high risk of coronary heart disease (CHD, with or without hyperlipidaemia). Medicinal product therapy can be initiated simultaneously with diet and exercise. Adjustments of dose, if required, should be made as specified above.
Simvastatin is effective alone or in combination with bile acid sequestrants. Dosing should occur either > 2 hours before or > 4 hours after administration of a bile acid sequestrant.
In patients taking simvastatin concomitantly with fibrates, other than gemfibrozil (see section 4.3) or fenofibrate, the dose of simvastatin should not exceed 10 mg/day. In patients taking amiodarone, amlodipine, verapamil, diltiazem, or products containing elbasvir or grazoprevir concomitantly with simvastatin, the dose of simvastatin should not exceed 20 mg/day. (see sections 4.4 and 4.5).
No modification of dose should be necessary in patients with moderate renal impairment.
In patients with severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance < 30 ml/min), doses above 10 mg/day should be carefully considered and, if deemed necessary, implemented cautiously.
No dose adjustment is necessary.
For children and adolescents (boys Tanner Stage II and above and girls who are at least one year post-menarche, 10–17 years of age) with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia, the recommended usual starting dose is 10 mg once a day in the evening. Children and adolescents should be placed on a standard cholesterol-lowering diet before simvastatin treatment initiation; this diet should be continued during simvastatin treatment.
The recommended dosing range is 10–40 mg/day; the maximum recommended dose is 40 mg/day. Doses should be individualised according to the recommended goal of therapy as recommended by the paediatric treatment recommendations (see sections 4.4 and 5.1). Adjustments should be made at intervals of 4 weeks or more.
The experience of simvastatin in pre-pubertal children is limited.
Method of administration
[Simvastatin is for oral administration. Simvastatin can be administered as a single dose in the evening.
• Hypersensitivity to the active substance or to any of the excipients listed in section 6.1
• Active liver disease or unexplained persistent elevations of serum transaminases
• Pregnancy and lactation (see section 4.6)
• Concomitant administration of potent CYP3A4 inhibitors (agents that increase AUC approximately 5 fold or greater) (e.g. itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, HIV protease inhibitors (e.g. nelfinavir), boceprevir, telaprevir, erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin, nefazodone and medicinal products containing cobicistat (see sections 4.4 and 4.5)
• Concomitant administration of gemfibrozil, ciclosporin, or danazol (see sections 4.4 and 4.5)
• In patients with HoFH, concomitant administration of lomitapide with doses > 40 mg simvastatin (see sections 4.2, 4.4 and 4.5).
Simvastatin, like other inhibitors of HMG-CoA reductase, occasionally causes myopathy manifested as muscle pain, tenderness or weakness with creatine kinase (CK) above ten times the upper limit of normal (ULN). Myopathy sometimes takes the form of rhabdomyolysis with or without acute renal failure secondary to myoglobinuria, and very rare fatalities have occurred. The risk of myopathy is increased by high levels of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity in plasma (i.e., elevated simvastatin and simvastatin acid plasma levels), which may be due, in part, to interacting medicinal products that interfere with simvastatin metabolism and/or transporter pathways (see section 4.5).
As with other HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, the risk of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis is dose related. In a clinical trial database in which 41,413 patients were treated with simvastatin, 24,747 (approximately 60%) of whom were enrolled in studies with a median follow-up of at least 4 years, the incidence of myopathy was approximately 0.03%, 0.08% and 0.61% at 20, 40 and 80 mg/day, respectively. In these trials, patients were carefully monitored and some interacting medicinal products were excluded.
In a clinical trial in which patients with a history of myocardial infarction were treated with simvastatin 80 mg/day (mean follow-up 6.7 years), the incidence of myopathy was approximately 1.0 % compared with 0.02 % for patients on 20 mg/day. Approximately half of these myopathy cases occurred during the first year of treatment. The incidence of myopathy during each subsequent year of treatment was approximately 0.1 % (see sections 4.8 and 5.1).
The risk of myopathy is greater in patients on simvastatin 80 mg compared with other statin-based therapies with similar LDL-C- lowering efficacy. Therefore, the 80-mg dose of simvastatin should only be used in patients with severe hypercholesterolaemia and at high risk for cardiovascular complications who have not achieved their treatment goals on lower doses and when the benefits are expected to outweigh the potential risks. In patients taking simvastatin 80 mg for whom an interacting agent is needed, a lower dose of simvastatin or an alternative statin-based regimen with less potential for medicinal products interactions should be used (see below Measures to reduce the risk of myopathy caused by medicinal product interactions and sections 4.2, 4.3 and 4.5).
In a clinical trial in which patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease were treated with simvastatin 40 mg/day (median follow-up 3.9 years), the incidence of myopathy was approximately 0.05 % for non-Chinese patients (n = 7367) compared with 0.24 % for Chinese patients (n = 5468). While the only Asian population assessed in this clinical trial was Chinese, caution should be used when prescribing simvastatin to Asian patients and the lowest dose necessary should be employed.
Reduced function of transport proteins
Reduced function of hepatic OATP transport proteins can increase the systemic exposure of simvastatin acid and increase the risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis. Reduced function can occur as the result of inhibition by interacting medicinal products (e.g. ciclosporin) or in patients who are carriers of the SLCO1B1 c.521T>C genotype.
Patients carrying the SLCO1B1 gene allele (c.521T>C) coding for a less active OATP1B1 protein have an increased systemic exposure of simvastatin acid and increased risk of myopathy. The risk of high dose (80 mg) simvastatin related myopathy is about 1 % in general, without genetic testing. Based on the results of the SEARCH trial, homozygote C allele carriers (also called CC) treated with 80 mg have a 15% risk of myopathy within one year, while the risk in heterozygote C allele carriers (CT) is 1.5%. The corresponding risk is 0.3% in patients having the most common genotype (TT) (see section 5.2). Where available, genotyping for the presence of the C allele should be considered as part of the benefit-risk assessment prior to prescribing 80 mg simvastatin for individual patients and high doses avoided in those found to carry the CC genotype. However, absence of this gene upon genotyping does not exclude that myopathy can still occur.
Creatine Kinase measurement
Creatine Kinase (CK) should not be measured following strenuous exercise or in the presence of any plausible alternative cause of CK increase as this makes value interpretation difficult. If CK levels are significantly elevated at baseline (> 5 x ULN), levels should be re-measured within 5 to 7 days later to confirm the results.
Before the treatment
All patients starting therapy with simvastatin, or whose dose of simvastatin is being increased, should be advised of the risk of myopathy and told to report promptly any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness.
Caution should be exercised in patients with pre-disposing factors for rhabdomyolysis. In order to establish a reference baseline value, a CK level should be measured before starting a treatment in the following situations:
• Elderly (age ≥ 65 years)
• Female gender
• Renal impairment
• Uncontrolled hypothyroidism
• Personal or familial history of hereditary muscular disorders
• Previous history of muscular toxicity with a statin or fibrate
• Alcohol abuse.
In such situations, the risk of treatment should be considered in relation to possible benefit, and clinical monitoring is recommended. If a patient has previously experienced a muscle disorder on a fibrate or a statin, treatment with a different member of the class should only be initiated with caution. If CK levels are significantly elevated at baseline (> 5 x ULN), treatment should not be started.
Whilst on treatment
If muscle pain, weakness or cramps occur whilst a patient is receiving treatment with a statin, their CK levels should be measured. If these levels are found, in the absence of strenuous exercise, to be significantly elevated (> 5 x ULN), treatment should be stopped. If muscular symptoms are severe and cause daily discomfort, even if CK levels are < 5 x ULN, treatment discontinuation may be considered. If myopathy is suspected for any other reason, treatment should be discontinued.
There have been very rare reports of an immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM) during or after treatment with some statins. IMNM is clinically characterized by persistent proximal muscle weakness and elevated serum creatine kinase, which persist despite discontinuation of statin treatment (see section 4.8).
If symptoms resolve and CK levels return to normal, then re-introduction of the statin or introduction of an alternative statin may be considered at the lowest dose and with close monitoring.
A higher rate of myopathy has been observed in patients titrated to the 80 mg dose (see section 5.1). Periodic CK measurements are recommended as they may be useful to identify subclinical cases of myopathy. However, there is no assurance that such monitoring will prevent myopathy.
Therapy with simvastatin should be temporarily stopped a few days prior to elective major surgery and when any major medical or surgical condition supervenes.
Measures to reduce the risk of myopathy caused by medicinal product interactions (see also section 4.5)
The risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis is significantly increased by concomitant use of simvastatin with potent inhibitors of CYP3A4 (such as itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors (e.g. nelfinavir), boceprevir, telaprevir, nefazodone, medicinal products containing cobicistat), as well as gemfibrozil, ciclosporin and danazol. Use of these medicinal products is contraindicated (see section 4.3).
The risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis is also increased by concomitant use of amiodarone, amlodipine, verapamil, or diltiazem with certain doses of simvastatin (see sections 4.2 and 4.5). The risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, may be increased by concomitant administration of fusidic acid with statins (see section 4.5). For patients with HoFH, this risk may be increased by concomitant use of lomitapide with simvastatin.
Consequently, regarding CYP3A4 inhibitors, the use of simvastatin concomitantly with itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, HIV protease inhibitors (e.g. nelfinavir), boceprevir, telaprevir, erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin, nefazodone, and medicinal products containing cobicistat is contraindicated (see sections 4.3 and 4.5). If treatment with potent CYP3A4 inhibitors (agents that increase AUC approximately 5 fold or greater) is unavoidable, therapy with simvastatin must be suspended (and use of an alternative statin considered) during the course of treatment. Moreover, caution should be exercised when combining simvastatin with certain other less potent CYP3A4 inhibitors: fluconazole, verapamil, diltiazem (see sections 4.2 and 4.5). Concomitant intake of grapefruit juice and simvastatin should be avoided.
The use of simvastatin with gemfibrozil is contraindicated (see section 4.3). Due to the increased risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis, the dose of simvastatin should not exceed 10 mg daily in patients taking simvastatin with other fibrates, except fenofibrate (see sections 4.2 and 4.5). Caution should be used when prescribing fenofibrate with simvastatin, as either agent can cause myopathy when given alone.
Simvastatin must not be co-administered with systemic formulations of fusidic acid or within 7 days of stopping fusidic acid treatment. In patients where the use of systemic fusidic acid is considered essential, statin treatment should be discontinued throughout the duration of fusidic acid treatment. There have been reports of rhabdomyolysis (including some fatalities) in patients receiving fusidic acid and statins in combination (see section 4.5). The patient should be advised to seek medical advice immediately if they experience any symptoms of muscle weakness, pain or tenderness.
Statin therapy may be re-introduced seven days after the last dose of fusidic acid.
In exceptional circumstances, where prolonged systemic fusidic acid is needed, e.g., for the treatment of severe infections, the need for co-administration of Simvastatin and fusidic acid should only be considered on a case by case basis and under close medical supervision.
The combined use of simvastatin at doses higher than 20 mg daily with amiodarone, amlodipine, verapamil, or diltiazem should be avoided. In patients with HoFH, the combined use of simvastatin at doses higher than 40 mg daily with lomitapide must be avoided (see sections 4.2, 4.3 and 4.5).
Patients taking other medicinal products labelled as having a moderate inhibitory effect on CYP3A4 concomitantly with simvastatin, particularly higher simvastatin doses, may have an increased risk of myopathy.
When co-administering simvastatin with a moderate inhibitor of CYP3A4 (agents that increase AUC approximately 2- 5 fold), a dose adjustment of simvastatin may be necessary. For certain moderate CYP3A4 inhibitors e.g. diltiazem, a maximum dose of 20 mg simvastatin is recommended (see section 4.2).
Simvastatin is a substrate of the Breast Cancer Resistant Protein (BCRP) efflux transporter. Concomitant administration of products that are inhibitors of BCRP (e.g., elbasvir and grazoprevir) may lead to increased plasma concentrations of simvastatin and an increased risk of myopathy; therefore, a dose adjustment of simvastatin should be considered depending on the prescribed dose. Co-administration of elbasvir and grazoprevir with simvastatin has not been studied; however, the dose of simvastatin should not exceed 20 mg daily in patients receiving concomitant medicinal products containing elbasvir or grazoprevir (see section 4.5).
Rare cases of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis have been associated with concomitant administration of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors and lipid-modifying doses (≥ 1 g/day) of niacin (nicotinic acid), either of which can cause myopathy when given alone.
In a clinical trial (median follow-up 3.9 years) involving patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease and with well-controlled LDL-C levels on simvastatin 40 mg/day with or without ezetimibe 10 mg, there was no incremental benefit on cardiovascular outcomes with the addition of lipid-modifying doses (≥1 g/day) of niacin (nicotinic acid). Therefore, physicians contemplating combined therapy with simvastatin and lipid-modifying doses (≥ 1 g/day) of niacin (nicotinic acid) or products containing niacin should carefully weigh the potential benefits and risks and should carefully monitor patients for any signs and symptoms of muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness, particularly during the initial months of therapy and when the dose of either medicinal product is increased.
In addition, in this trial, the incidence of myopathy was approximately 0.24 % for Chinese patients on simvastatin 40 mg or ezetimibe/simvastatin 10/40 mg compared with 1.24 % for Chinese patients on simvastatin 40 mg or ezetimibe/simvastatin 10/40 mg co-administered with modified-release nicotinic acid/laropiprant 2000 mg/40 mg. While the only Asian population assessed in this clinical trial was Chinese, because the incidence of myopathy is higher in Chinese than in non-Chinese patients, co-administration of simvastatin with lipid-modifying doses (≥1 g/day) of niacin (nicotinic acid) is not recommended in Asian patients.
Acipimox is structurally related to niacin. Although acipimox was not studied, the risk for muscle related toxic effects may be similar to niacin.
In clinical studies, persistent increases (to > 3 x ULN) in serum transaminases have occurred in a few adult patients who received simvastatin. When simvastatin was interrupted or discontinued in these patients, the transaminase levels usually fell slowly to pre-treatment levels.
It is recommended that liver function tests be performed before treatment begins and thereafter when clinically indicated. Patients titrated to the 80-mg dose should receive an additional test prior to titration, 3 months after titration to the 80-mg dose, and periodically thereafter (e.g., semi-annually) for the first year of treatment. Special attention should be paid to patients who develop elevated serum transaminase levels, and in these patients, measurements should be repeated promptly and then performed more frequently. If the transaminase levels show evidence of progression, particularly if they rise to 3 x ULN and are persistent, simvastatin should be discontinued. Note that ALT may emanate from muscle, therefore ALT rising with CK may indicate myopathy (see above Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis).
There have been rare post-marketing reports of fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure in patients taking statins, including simvastatin. If serious liver injury with clinical symptoms and /or hyperbilirubinaemia or jaundice occurs during treatment with simvastatin, promptly interrupt therapy. If an alternate etiology is not found, do not restart simvastatin.
The product should be used with caution in patients who consume substantial quantities of alcohol.
As with other lipid-lowering agents, moderate (< 3 x ULN) elevations of serum transaminases have been reported following therapy with simvastatin. These changes appeared soon after initiation of therapy with simvastatin, were often transient, were not accompanied by any symptoms and interruption of treatment was not required.
Some evidence suggests that statins as a class raise blood glucose and in some patients, at high risk of future diabetes, may produce a level of hyperglycaemia where formal diabetes care is appropriate. This risk, however, is outweighed by the reduction in vascular risk with statins and therefore should not be a reason for stopping statin treatment. Patients at risk (fasting glucose 5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L, BMI > 30 kg/m2, raised triglycerides, hypertension) should be monitored both clinically and biochemically according to national guidelines.
Interstitial lung disease
Cases of interstitial lung disease have been reported with some statins, including simvastatin especially with long term therapy (see section 4.8). Presenting features can include dyspnoea, non-productive cough and deterioration in general health (fatigue, weight loss and fever). If it is suspected a patient has developed interstitial lung disease, statin therapy should be discontinued.
Safety and effectiveness of simvastatin in patients 10–17 years of age with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia have been evaluated in a controlled clinical trial in adolescent boys Tanner Stage II and above and in girls who were at least one year post-menarche. Patients treated with simvastatin had an adverse experience profile generally similar to that of patients treated with placebo. Doses greater than 40 mg have not been studied in this population. In this limited controlled study, there was no detectable effect on growth or sexual maturation in the adolescent boys or girls, or any effect on menstrual cycle length in girls. (see sections 4.2, 4.8 and 5.1). Adolescent females should be counselled on appropriate contraceptive methods while on simvastatin therapy (see sections 4.3 and 4.6). In patients aged < 18 years, efficacy and safety have not been studied for treatment periods > 48 weeks' duration and long-term effects on physical, intellectual, and sexual maturation are unknown. Simvastatin has not been studied in patients younger than 10 years of age, nor in pre-pubertal children and pre-menarchal girls.
This product contains lactose. Patients with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, total lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption should not take this medicinal product.
Multiple mechanisms may contribute to potential interactions with HMG Co-A reductase inhibitors. Medicinal products or herbal products that inhibit certain enzymes (e.g. CYP3A4) and/or transporter (e.g. OATP1B) pathways may increase simvastatin and simvastatin acid plasma concentrations and may lead to an increased risk of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis.
Consult the prescribing information of all concomitantly used medicinal products to obtain further information about their potential interactions with simvastatin and/or the potential for enzyme or transporter alterations and possible adjustments to dose and regimens.
Interaction studies have only been performed in adults.
Interactions with lipid-lowering medicinal products that can cause myopathy when given alone
The risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, is increased during concomitant administration with fibrates. Additionally, there is a pharmacokinetic interaction with gemfibrozil resulting in increased simvastatin plasma levels (see below Pharmacokinetic interactions and sections 4.3 and 4.4). When simvastatin and fenofibrate are given concomitantly, there is no evidence that the risk of myopathy exceeds the sum of the individual risks of each agent. Adequate pharmacovigilance and pharmacokinetic data are not available for other fibrates. Rare cases of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis have been associated with simvastatin co-administered with lipid-modifying doses (≥ 1 g/day) of niacin (see section 4.4).
Prescribing recommendations for interacting agents are summarised in the table below (further details are provided in the text; see also sections 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4).
Medicinal products interactions associated with increased risk of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis
Potent CYP3A4 inhibitors: e.g.:
HIV protease inhibitors (e.g. nelfinavir)
Contraindicated with simvastatin
Other fibrates (except fenofibrate)
Do not exceed 10 mg simvastatin daily
Is not recommended with simvastatin
Niacin (nicotinic acid) (≥ 1 g/day)
For Asian patients, is not recommended with simvastatin
Do not exceed 20 mg simvastatin daily
For patients with HoFH, do not exceed 40 mg simvastatin daily
Avoid grapefruit juice when taking simvastatin
Effects of other medicinal products on simvastatin
Interactions involving inhibitors of CYP3A4
Simvastatin is a substrate of cytochrome P450 3A4. Potent inhibitors of cytochrome P450 3A4 increase the risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis by increasing the concentration of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity in plasma during simvastatin therapy. Such inhibitors include itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors (e.g.nelfinavir), boceprevir, telaprevir, nefazodone, and medicinal products containing cobicistat. Concomitant administration of itraconazole resulted in a more than 10-fold increase in exposure to simvastatin acid (the active beta-hydroxyacid metabolite). Telithromycin caused an 11-fold increase in exposure to simvastatin acid.
Combination with itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, HIV protease inhibitors (e.g. nelfinavir), boceprevir, telaprevir, erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin, nefazodone, and medicinal products containing cobicistat is contraindicated, as well as gemfibrozil, ciclosporin, and danazol (see section 4.3). If treatment with potent CYP3A4 inhibitors (agents that increase AUC approximately 5 fold or greater) is unavoidable, therapy with simvastatin must be suspended (and use of an alternative statin considered) during the course of treatment. Caution should be exercised when combining simvastatin with certain other less potent CYP3A4 inhibitors: fluconazole, verapamil, or diltiazem (see sections 4.2 and 4.4).
Rare cases of rhabdomyolysis associated with concomitant administration of simvastatin and fluconazole have been reported (see section 4.4).
The risk of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis is increased by concomitant administration of ciclosporin with simvastatin; therefore, use with ciclosporin is contraindicated (see sections 4.3 and 4.4). Although the mechanism is not fully understood, ciclosporin has been shown to increase the AUC of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. The increase in AUC for simvastatin acid is presumably due, in part, to inhibition of CYP3A4 and/or OATP1B1.
The risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis is increased by concomitant administration of danazol with simvastatin; therefore, use with danazol is contraindicated (see sections 4.3 and 4.4).
Gemfibrozil increases the AUC of simvastatin acid by 1.9-fold, possibly due to inhibition of the glucuronidation pathway and/or OATP1B1 (see sections 4.3 and 4.4). Concomitant administration with gemfibrozil is contraindicated.
The risk of myopathy including rhabdomyolysis may be increased by the concomitant administration of systemic fusidic acid with statins. The mechanism of this interaction (whether it is pharmacodynamic or pharmacokinetic, or both) is yet unknown. There have been reports of rhabdomyolysis (including some fatalities) in patients receiving this combination.
Co-administration of this combination may cause increased plasma concentrations of both agents. If treatment with systemic fusidic acid is necessary, simvastatin treatment should be discontinued throughout the duration of the fusidic acid treatment. Also see section 4.4.
The risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis is increased by concomitant administration of amiodarone with simvastatin (see section 4.4). In a clinical trial, myopathy was reported in 6 % of patients receiving simvastatin 80 mg and amiodarone. Therefore the dose of simvastatin should not exceed 20 mg daily in patients receiving concomitant medicinal product with amiodarone.
Calcium channel blockers
The risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis is increased by concomitant administration of verapamil with simvastatin 40 mg or 80 mg (see section 4.4). In a pharmacokinetic study, concomitant administration with verapamil resulted in a 2.3-fold increase in exposure of simvastatin acid, presumably due, in part, to inhibition of CYP3A4. Therefore, the dose of simvastatin should not exceed 20 mg daily in patients receiving concomitant medicinal product with verapamil.
The risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis is increased by concomitant administration of diltiazem with simvastatin 80 mg (see section 4.4). In a pharmacokinetic study, concomitant administration of diltiazem caused a 2.7-fold increase in exposure of simvastatin acid, presumably due to inhibition of CYP3A4. Therefore, the dose of simvastatin should not exceed 20 mg daily in patients receiving concomitant medicinal product with diltiazem.
Patients on amlodipine treated concomitantly with simvastatin have an increased risk of myopathy. In a pharmacokinetic study, concomitant administration of amlodipine caused a 1.6-fold increase in exposure of simvastatin acid. Therefore, the dose of simvastatin should not exceed 20 mg daily in patients receiving concomitant medicinal product with amlodipine.
The risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis may be increased by concomitant administration of lomitapide with simvastatin (see sections 4.3 and 4.4). Therefore, in patients with HoFH, the dose of simvastatin must not exceed 40 mg daily in patients receiving concomitant medicinal product with lomitapide.
Moderate inhibitors of CYP3A4
Patients taking other medicinal products labelled as having a moderate inhibitory effect on CYP3A4 concomitantly with simvastatin, particularly higher simvastatin doses, may have an increased risk of myopathy (see section 4.4).
Inhibitors of the transport protein OATP1B1
Simvastatin acid is a substrate of the transport protein OATP1B1. Concomitant administration of medicinal products that are inhibitors of the transport protein OATP1B1 may lead to increased plasma concentrations of simvastatin acid and an increased risk of myopathy (see sections 4.3 and 4.4).
Inhibitors of Breast Cancer Resistant Protein (BCRP)
Concomitant administration of medicinal products that are inhibitors of BCRP, including products containing elbasvir or grazoprevir, may lead to increased plasma concentrations of simvastatin and an increased risk of myopathy (see sections 4.2 and 4.4).
Niacin (nicotinic acid)
Rare cases of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis have been associated with simvastatin co-administered with lipid-modifying doses (≥ 1 g/day) of niacin (nicotinic acid). In a pharmacokinetic study, the co-administration of a single dose of nicotinic acid prolonged-release 2 g with simvastatin 20 mg resulted in a modest increase in the AUC of simvastatin and simvastatin acid and in the Cmax of simvastatin acid plasma concentrations.
Grapefruit juice inhibits cytochrome P450 3A4. Concomitant intake of large quantities (over 1 litre daily) of grapefruit juice and simvastatin resulted in a 7-fold increase in exposure to simvastatin acid. Intake of 240 ml of grapefruit juice in the morning and simvastatin in the evening also resulted in a 1.9-fold increase. Intake of grapefruit juice during treatment with simvastatin should therefore be avoided.
There have been reports of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis with the concomitant administration of colchicine and simvastatin in patients with renal impairment. Close clinical monitoring of such patients taking this combination is advised.
Because rifampicin is a potent CYP3A4 inducer, patients undertaking long-term rifampicin therapy (e.g. treatment of tuberculosis) may experience loss of efficacy of simvastatin. In a pharmacokinetic study in normal volunteers, the area under the plasma concentration curve (AUC) for simvastatin acid was decreased by 93% with concomitant administration of rifampicin.
Effects of simvastatin on the pharmacokinetics of other medicinal products
Simvastatin does not have an inhibitory effect on cytochrome P450 3A4. Therefore, simvastatin is not expected to affect plasma concentrations of substances metabolised via cytochrome P450 3A4.
In two clinical studies, one in normal volunteers and the other in hypercholesterolaemic patients, simvastatin 20 - 40 mg/day modestly potentiated the effect of coumarin anticoagulants: the prothrombin time, reported as International Normalized Ratio (INR), increased from a baseline of 1.7 to 1.8 and from 2.6 to 3.4 in the volunteer and patient studies, respectively. Very rare cases of elevated INR have been reported. In patients taking coumarin anticoagulants, prothrombin time should be determined before starting simvastatin and frequently enough during early therapy to ensure that no significant alteration of prothrombin time occurs. Once a stable prothrombin time has been documented, prothrombin times can be monitored at the intervals usually recommended for patients on coumarin anticoagulants. If the dose of simvastatin is changed or discontinued, the same procedure should be repeated. Simvastatin therapy has not been associated with bleeding or with changes in prothrombin time in patients not taking anticoagulants.
Simvastatin is contraindicated during pregnancy (see section 4.3).
Safety in pregnant women has not been established. No controlled clinical trials with simvastatin have been conducted in pregnant women. Rare reports of congenital anomalies following intrauterine exposure to HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors have been received. However, in an analysis of approximately 200 prospectively followed pregnancies exposed during the first trimester to simvastatin or another closely related HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, the incidence of congenital anomalies was comparable to that seen in the general population. This number of pregnancies was statistically sufficient to exclude a 2.5-fold or greater increase in congenital anomalies over the background incidence.
Although there is no evidence that the incidence of congenital anomalies in offspring of patients taking simvastatin or another closely related HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor differs from that observed in the general population, maternal treatment with simvastatin may reduce the foetal levels of mevalonate which is a precursor of cholesterol biosynthesis. Atherosclerosis is a chronic process, and ordinarily discontinuation of lipid-lowering medicinal products during pregnancy should have little impact on the long-term risk associated with primary hypercholesterolaemia. For these reasons, simvastatin must not be used in women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or suspect they are pregnant. Treatment with simvastatin must be suspended for the duration of pregnancy or until it has been determined that the woman is not pregnant (see sections 4.3 and 5.3).
It is not known whether simvastatin or its metabolites are excreted in human milk. Because many medicinal products are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions, women taking simvastatin must not breast-feed their infants (see section 4.3).
No clinical trial data are available on the effects of simvastatin on human fertility. Simvastatin had no effect on the fertility of male and female rats (see section 5.3).
Simvastatin has no or negligible influence on the ability to drive and use machines. However, when driving vehicles or operating machines, it should be taken into account that dizziness has been reported rarely in post-marketing experiences.
The frequencies of the following adverse events, which have been reported during clinical studies and/or post-marketing use, are categorized based on an assessment of their incidence rates in large, long-term, placebo-controlled, clinical trials including HPS and 4S with 20,536 and 4,444 patients, respectively (see section 5.1). For HPS, only serious adverse events were recorded as well as myalgia increases in serum transaminases and CK. For 4S, all the adverse events listed below were recorded. If the incidence rates on simvastatin were less than or similar to that of placebo in these trials, and there were similar reasonably causally related spontaneous report events, these adverse events are categorized as “rare”.
In HPS (see section 5.1) involving 20,536 patients treated with 40 mg/day of simvastatin (n=10,269) or placebo (n=10,267), the safety profiles were comparable between patients treated with simvastatin 40 mg and patients treated with placebo over the mean 5 years of the study. Discontinuation rates due to adverse reactions were comparable (4.8 % in patients treated with simvastatin 40 mg compared with 5.1 % in patients treated with placebo). The incidence of myopathy was <0.1 % in patients treated with simvastatin 40 mg. Elevated transaminases (>3 x ULN confirmed by repeat test) occurred in 0.21 % (n = 21) of patients treated with simvastatin 40 mg compared with 0.09 % (n = 9) of patients treated with placebo.
The frequencies of adverse events are ranked according to the following:
Very common (≥ 1/10), Common (≥ 1/100 to < 1/10), Uncommon (≥ 1/1000 to < 1/100), Rare (≥ 1/10,000 to < 1/1000), Very rare (< 1/10,000), Not known (cannot be estimated from the available data).
Blood and lymphatic disorders
Immune system disorders
Very rare: Anaphylaxis
Very rare: Insomnia
Not known: Depression
Nervous system disorders
Rare: Headache, paresthesia, dizziness, peripheral neuropathy
Very rare: Memory impairment*
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorder
Not known: Interstitial lung disease (see section 4.4)
Rare: Constipation, abdominal pain, flatulence, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, pancreatitis
Very rare: Fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure
Skin and subcutaneous disorders
Rare: Rash, pruritus, alopecia
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
Rare: Myopathy** (including myositis), rhabdomyolysis with or without acute renal failure (see section 4.4), myalgia, muscle cramps
Not known: Tendinopathy, sometimes complicated by rupture, immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM)*** (see section 4.4)
Reproductive system and breast disorders
Not known: Erectile dysfunction
General disorders and administration site conditions
Rare: Asthenia, hypersensitivity syndrome****
Rare: Increases in serum transaminases (alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase) (see section 4.4 Hepatic effects), elevated alkaline phosphatase and increase in serum CK levels (see section 4.4)*****
* There have been rare post-marketing reports of cognitive impairment (e.g. memory loss, forgetfulness, amnesia, memory impairment, confusion) associated with statin use, including simvastatin. The reports are generally nonserious, and reversible upon statin discontinuation, with variable times to symptom onset (1 day to years) and symptom resolution (median of 3 weeks).
** In a clinical trial, myopathy occurred commonly in patients treated with simvastatin 80 mg/day compared to patients treated with 20 mg/day (1.0% vs 0.02%, respectively) (see sections 4.4 and 4.5).
*** There have been very rare reports of immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM), an autoimmune myopathy, during or after treatment with some statins. IMNM is clinically characterized by: persistent proximal muscle weakness and elevated serum creatine kinase, which persist despite discontinuation of statin treatment; muscle biopsy showing necrotizing myopathy without significant inflammation; improvement with immunosuppressive agents (see section 4.4).
**** An apparent hypersensitivity syndrome has been reported rarely which has included some of the following features: angioedema, lupus-like syndrome, polymyalgia rheumatica, dermatomyositis, vasculitis, thrombocytopenia, eosinophilia, ESR increased, arthritis and arthralgia, urticaria, photosensitivity, fever, flushing, dyspnoea and malaise.
***** Increases in HbA1c and fasting serum glucose levels have been reported with statins, including simvastatin.
The following additional adverse events have been reported with some statins:
• Sleep disturbances, including nightmares
• Sexual dysfunction
• Diabetes mellitus: Frequency will depend on the presence or absence of risk factors (fasting blood glucose ≥ 5.6 mmol/L, BMI>30kg/m2, raised triglycerides, history of hypertension).
In a 48-week study involving children and adolescents (boys Tanner Stage II and above and girls who were at least one year post-menarche) 10–17 years of age with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia (n = 175), the safety and tolerability profile of the group treated with simvastatin was generally similar to that of the group treated with placebo.
The long-term effects on physical, intellectual, and sexual maturation are unknown. No sufficient data are currently available after one year of treatment (see sections 4.2, 4.4 and 5.1).
Reporting of suspected adverse reactions
Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme (www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard) or search for MHRA Yellow Card in Google play or Apple App store.
To date, a few cases of overdose have been reported; the maximum dose taken was 3.6 g. All patients recovered without sequelae. There is no specific treatment in the event of overdose. In this case, symptomatic and supportive measures should be adopted.
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Lipid modifiying agents, plain, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, ATC-Code: C10A A01
Mechanism of action
After oral ingestion, simvastatin, which is an inactive lactone, is hydrolyzed in the liver to the corresponding active beta-hydroxyacid form which has a potent activity in inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase (3-hydroxy – 3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase). This enzyme catalyses the conversion of HMG-CoA to mevalonate, an early and rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis of cholesterol.
Simvastatin has been shown to reduce both normal and elevated LDL-C concentrations. LDL is formed from very-low-density protein (VLDL) and is catabolised predominantly by the high affinity LDL receptor. The mechanism of the LDL-lowering effect of simvastatin may involve both reduction of VLDL-cholesterol (VLDL-C) concentration and induction of the LDL receptor, leading to reduced production and increased catabolism of LDL-C. Apolipoprotein B also falls substantially during treatment with simvastatin. In addition, simvastatin moderately increases HDL-C and reduces plasma TG. As a result of these changes the ratios of total- to HDL-C and LDL- to HDL-C are reduced.
Clinical efficacy and safety
High risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) or existing coronary heart disease
In the Heart Protection Study (HPS), the effects of therapy with simvastatin were assessed in 20,536 patients (age 40-80 years), with or without hyperlipidaemia, and with coronary heart disease, other occlusive arterial disease or diabetes mellitus. In this study, 10,269 patients were treated with simvastatin 40 mg/day and 10,267 patients were treated with placebo for a mean duration of 5 years. At baseline, 6,793 patients (33%) had LDL-C levels below 116 mg/dL; 5,063 patients (25%) had levels between 116 mg/dL and 135 mg/dL; and 8,680 patients (42%) had levels greater than 135 mg/dL.
Treatment with simvastatin 40 mg/day compared with placebo significantly reduced the risk of all cause mortality (1328 [12.9%] for simvastatin-treated patients versus 1507 [14.7%] for patients given placebo; p = 0.0003), due to an 18% reduction in coronary death rate (587 [5.7%] versus 707 [6.9%]; p = 0.0005; absolute risk reduction of 1.2%). The reduction in non-vascular deaths did not reach statistical significance.
Simvastatin also decreased the risk of major coronary events (a composite endpoint comprised of non-fatal MI or CHD death) by 27% (p < 0.0001). Simvastatin reduced the need for undergoing coronary revascularization procedures (including coronary artery bypass grafting or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty) and peripheral and other non-coronary revascularization procedures by 30% (p < 0.0001) and 16% (p = 0.006), respectively. Simvastatin reduced the risk of stroke by 25% (p < 0.0001), attributable to a 30% reduction in ischemic stroke (p < 0.0001). In addition, within the subgroup of patients with diabetes, simvastatin reduced the risk of developing macrovascular complications, including peripheral revascularization procedures (surgery or angioplasty), lower limb amputations, or leg ulcers by 21% (p = 0.0293). The proportional reduction in event rate was similar in each subgroup of patients studied, including those without coronary disease but who had cerebrovascular or peripheral artery disease, men and women, those aged either under or over 70 years at entry into the study, presence or absence of hypertension, and notably those with LDL cholesterol below 3.0 mmol/l at inclusion.
In the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study (4S), the effect of therapy with simvastatin on total mortality was assessed in 4,444 patients with CHD and baseline total cholesterol 212-309 mg/dL (5.5-8.0 mmol/L). In this multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients with angina or a previous myocardial infarction (MI) were treated with diet, standard care, and either simvastatin 20-40 mg/day (n = 2,221) or placebo (n = 2,223) for a median duration of 5.4 years. Simvastatin reduced the risk of death by 30% (absolute risk reduction of 3.3%). The risk of CHD death was reduced by 42% (absolute risk reduction of 3.5%). Simvastatin also decreased the risk of having major coronary events (CHD death plus hospital-verified and silent nonfatal MI) by 34%. Furthermore simvastatin significantly reduced the risk of fatal plus non-fatal cerebrovascular events (stroke and transient ischemic attacks) by 28%. There was no statistically significant difference between groups in non-cardiovascular mortality.
The Study of the Effectiveness of Additional Reductions in Cholesterol and Homocysteine (SEARCH) evaluated the effect of treatment with simvastatin 80 mg versus 20 mg (median follow-up 6.7 yrs) on major vascular events (MVEs; defined as fatal CHD, non-fatal MI, coronary revascularization procedure, non-fatal or fatal stroke, or peripheral revascularization procedure) in 12,064 patients with a history of myocardial infarction. There was no significant difference in the incidence of MVEs between the 2 groups; Simvastatin 20 mg (n = 1553; 25.7 %) vs. simvastatin 80 mg (n = 1477; 24.5 %); RR 0.94, 95 % CI: 0.88 to 1.01. The absolute difference in LDL-C between the two groups over the course of the study was 0.35 ± 0.01 mmol/L. The safety profiles were similar between the two treatment groups except that the incidence of myopathy was approximately 1.0 % for patients on simvastatin 80 mg compared with 0.02 % for patients on 20 mg. Approximately half of these myopathy cases occurred during the first year of treatment. The incidence of myopathy during each subsequent year of treatment was approximately 0.1 %.
Primary hypercholesterolaemia and combined hyperlipidaemia
In studies comparing the efficacy and safety of simvastatin 10, 20, 40 and 80 mg daily in patients with hypercholesterolaemia, the mean reductions of LDL-C were 30, 38, 41 and 47%, respectively. In studies of patients with combined (mixed) hyperlipidaemia on simvastatin 40 mg and 80 mg, the median reductions in triglycerides were 28 and 33% (placebo: 2%), respectively, and mean increases in HDL-C were 13 and 16% (placebo: 3%), respectively.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 175 patients (99 boys Tanner Stage II and above and 76 girls who were at least one year post-menarche) 10–17 years of age (mean age 14.1 years) with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia (HeFH) were randomized to simvastatin or placebo for 24 weeks (base study). Inclusion in the study required a baseline LDL-C level between 160 and 400 mg/dL and at least one parent with an LDL-C level > 189 mg/dL. The dose of simvastatin (once daily in the evening) was 10 mg for the first 8 weeks, 20 mg for the second 8 weeks, and 40 mg thereafter. In a 24-week extension, 144 patients elected to continue therapy and received simvastatin 40 mg or placebo.
Simvastatin significantly decreased plasma levels of LDL-C, TG, and Apo B. Results from the extension at 48 weeks were comparable to those observed in the base study.
After 24 weeks of treatment, the mean achieved LDL-C value was 124.9 mg/dL (range: 64.0–289.0 mg/dL) in the simvastatin 40 mg group compared to 207.8 mg/dL (range: 128.0-334.0 mg/dL) in the placebo group.
After 24 weeks of simvastatin treatment (with doses increasing from 10, 20 and up to 40 mg daily at 8-week intervals), simvastatin decreased the mean LDL-C by 36.8 % (placebo: 1.1 % increase from baseline), Apo B by 32.4 % (placebo: 0.5 %), and median TG levels by 7.9 % (placebo: 3.2 %) and increased mean HDL-C levels by 8.3 % (placebo: 3.6 %). The long-term benefits of simvastatin on cardiovascular events in children with HeFH are unknown.
The safety and efficacy of doses above 40 mg daily have not been studied in children with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia. The long-term efficacy of simvastatin therapy in childhood to reduce morbidity and mortality in adulthood has not been established.
Simvastatin is an inactive lactone which is readily hydrolyzed in vivo to the corresponding beta-hydroxyacid, a potent inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase. Hydrolysis takes place mainly in the liver; the rate of hydrolysis in human plasma is very slow.
The pharmacokinetic properties have been evaluated in adults. Pharmacokinetic data in children and adolescents are not available.
In man simvastatin is well absorbed and undergoes extensive hepatic first-pass extraction. The extraction in the liver is dependent on the hepatic blood flow. The liver is the primary site of action of the active form. The availability of the beta-hydroxyacid to the systemic circulation following an oral dose of simvastatin was found to be less than 5% of the dose. Maximum plasma concentration of active inhibitors is reached approximately 1-2 hours after administration of simvastatin. Concomitant food intake does not affect the absorption.
The pharmacokinetics of single and multiple doses of simvastatin showed that no accumulation of medicinal product occurred after multiple dosing.
The protein binding of simvastatin and its active metabolite is >95%.
Simvastatin is a substrate of CYP3A4 (see sections 4.3 and 4.5). The major metabolites of simvastatin present in human plasma are the beta-hydroxyacid and four additional active metabolites. Following an oral dose of radioactive simvastatin to man, 13% of the radioactivity was excreted in the urine and 60% in the faeces within 96 hours. The amount recovered in the faeces represents absorbed medicinal product equivalents excreted in bile as well as unabsorbed medicinal product. Following an intravenous injection of the beta-hydroxyacid metabolite, its half-life averaged 1.9 hours. An average of only 0.3% of the IV dose was excreted in urine as inhibitors.
Simvastatin acid is taken up actively into the hepatocytes by the transporter OATP1B1.
Simvastatin is a substrate of the efflux transporter BCRP.
Carriers of the SLCO1B1 gene c.521T>C allele have lower OATP1B1 activity. The mean exposure (AUC) of the main active metabolite, simvastatin acid is 120% in heterozygote carriers (CT) of the C allele and 221% in homozygote (CC) carriers relative to that of patients who have the most common genotype (TT). The C allele has a frequency of 18% in the European population. In patients with SLCO1B1 polymorphism there is a risk of increased exposure of simvastatin acid, which may lead to an increased risk of rhabdomyolysis (see section 4.4).
Based on conventional animal studies regarding pharmacodynamics, repeated dose toxicity, genotoxicity and carcinogenicity, there are no other risks for the patient than may be expected on account of the pharmacological mechanism. At maximally tolerated doses in both the rat and the rabbit, simvastatin produced no foetal malformations, and had no effects on fertility, reproductive function or neonatal development.
Citric acid monohydrate (E330)
Titanium dioxide (E171)
Iron oxide, red (E 172)
Do not store above 30°C.
Keep the blisters in the outer carton, in order to protect from light.
Do not store above 30°C.
Store in the original container, in order to protect from light.
Blister (Al/PVC)Pack sizes: 10, 20, 28, 30, 40, 49, 50, 50 x 1, 60, 84, 90, 98 and 100 film-coated tablets.Polyethylene tablet container with screw capPack sizes: 10, 20, 28, 30, 40, 50, 84, 90, 100, 120 and 250 film-coated tablets.
Not all pack sizes or pack types may be marketed.
No special requirements for disposal.
Frimley Business Park,
Date of first authorisation: 21 July 2006
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