Get Your Questions About LIPITOR Answered
This section contains answers to common questions about LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets.
Click on a question for the answer.
- Q: What are LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets?
A: LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets are a prescription medicine that is used along with a low-fat diet to manage cholesterol. LIPITOR is a type of medicine called a statin. LIPITOR is used to manage cholesterol levels. Along with a low-fat diet, LIPITOR is clinically proven to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by 39%-60% (average effect depending on dose).
LIPITOR, along with a low-fat diet, is also used to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, certain kinds of heart surgeries, and chest pain if you have heart disease or several common risk factors for heart disease, including family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, age, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, or smoking.
To find out more about LIPITOR, click here.
- Q: What are the possible side effects of LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets?
A: LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets can cause serious side effects. These side effects have happened only to a small number of people. Your doctor can monitor you for them. These side effects usually go away if your dose is lowered or LIPITOR is stopped. These serious side effects include:
- Muscle problems. LIPITOR can cause muscle problems like weakness, tenderness, or pain that happen without a good reason, especially if you also have a fever or feel more tired than usual. This may be an early sign of a rare muscle problem.
- Liver problems. Your doctor should do blood tests to check your liver before you start taking LIPITOR and if you have symptoms of liver problems while you take LIPITOR. Call your doctor right away if you have the following symptoms of liver problems:
- feel tired or weak
- loss of appetite
- upper belly pain
- dark amber colored urine
- yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
Call your doctor right away if:
- You have muscle problems like weakness, tenderness, or pain that happen without a good reason, especially if you also have a fever or feel more tired than usual
- You have muscle problems that do not go away even after your doctor has advised you to stop taking LIPITOR. Your doctor may do further tests to diagnose the cause of your muscle problems.
- You have allergic reactions including swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and/or throat that may cause difficulty in breathing or swallowing, which may require treatment right away
- You experience nausea and vomiting
- You pass brown or dark-colored urine
- You feel more tired than usual
- Your skin and whites of your eyes get yellow
- You feel stomach pain
- You have an allergic skin reaction
In clinical studies, patients reported the following common side effects while taking LIPITOR: diarrhea, upset stomach, muscle and joint pain, and alterations in some laboratory blood tests.
The following additional side effects have been reported with LIPITOR: tiredness, tendon problems, memory loss, and confusion.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any side effects that bother you or that will not go away.
These are not all the side effects of LIPITOR. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a complete list.
- Q: Are LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets right for me?
A: LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets are a prescription medicine. Only your doctor can properly determine if you need a prescription medicine along with a low-fat diet to lower your high cholesterol.
Make an appointment with your doctor and ask if LIPITOR is right for you.
- Q: Who should not take LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets?
A: Do not take LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets if you:
- Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant. LIPITOR may harm your unborn baby. If you get pregnant, stop taking LIPITOR and call your doctor right away
- Are breast feeding. LIPITOR can pass into your breast milk and may harm your baby
- Have liver problems
- Are allergic to LIPITOR or any of its ingredients. The active ingredient is atorvastatin
- Q: When is the best time to take LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets?
A: LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets are taken once a day. The tablets can be taken with or without food, day or night. It's helpful to remember to try and take LIPITOR at about the same time every day.
- Q: Do I need to take LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets with food?
A: LIPITOR can be taken with or without food.
- Q: What if my daily schedule interferes with taking my medicine?
A: Try to take your medicine at the same time every day. Try connecting your medication with something you do every day, such as brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. This may help you remember.
Keep a daily calendar and add taking your medicine to your daily to-do list. Check it off once you have taken it. Or set an alarm clock to go off at the time you need to take your medication.
You can also use a pill box with the days of the week on it. Some pill boxes even come with built-in alarms!
You should also use a calendar to remind yourself to get refills before you run out of medicine.
- Q: Can LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets be prescribed to children?
A: LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets are for adults and children over 10 with a family history of high cholesterol and whose cholesterol does not come down enough with exercise and a low-fat diet alone.
LIPITOR is not approved for use in patients younger than 10 years of age.
- Q: What should I do if I am taking other prescription medications in addition to LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets?
A: Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and even herbal supplements. LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets and certain other medicines can interact, causing serious side effects.
- Q: What if I can’t always afford to refill my medication?
A: : If you need help paying for your Pfizer medicines, Pfizer Helpful Answers® may be able to help, regardless of your insurance situation. Learn how at www.PHAHelps.com.
- Q: I currently take LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets. Should I stop taking it based on the recent label changes?
A: We encourage patients to work with their physicians to discuss their treatment options. LIPITOR has been shown in multiple cardiovascular (CV) outcomes trials to significantly reduce the risk of CV events in a broad range of patients—those with multiple risk factors as well as high-risk patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) or with Type 2 diabetes plus additional risk factors.
- Q: Is this affecting all statins? Do these label changes apply to generic statins?
A: Yes. The class labeling is based on the FDA evaluation of all statin labels (including generic statins), entry of new interacting drugs on the market, and a review of clinical data and post-marketing reports.
- Q: I have Type 2 diabetes. Should I stop taking LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets? Will it make my blood sugar levels worse?
A: The FDA notes it is aware of studies showing that patients being treated with statins may have a small increased risk of increased blood sugar levels and of being diagnosed with diabetes. We encourage patients to work with their physicians to discuss how the potential risk of diabetes may be outweighed by the CV benefits of LIPITOR therapy demonstrated in clinical trials and their treatment options.
- Q: If I keep taking LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets, will I experience memory loss? Are these effects permanent?
A: We encourage patients to work with their physicians to discuss their treatment options. Certain cognitive effects, specifically memory loss and confusion, have been reported with statin use. The FDA notes that reports relating to cognitive effects have generally not been serious and that symptoms went away once the drug was no longer being taken.
- Q: Do I still have to monitor my liver enzyme levels with my doctor?
A: We encourage patients to work with their physicians to discuss their treatment options. Class labels for statins were revised to remove the need for routine periodic monitoring of liver enzymes in patients taking statins. The FDA now recommends that liver enzyme tests should be performed before starting statin therapy, and as clinically indicated thereafter.
- Q: Do these label changes apply to drug interactions with protease inhibitors?
A: The class labeling update includes clarifications around doses of statins for certain potential drug-drug interactions. For example, the atorvastatin label now cautions to avoid atorvastatin with:
- the use of certain protease inhibitors (tipranavir plus ritonavir for HIV)
- teleprevir (for Hepatitis C)
Information About a Recent FDA Update on Statin Labels
On February 28, 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an update to the safety labeling of all statins and combination products containing statins. This change was based on review of all statin labels, entry of new interacting drugs on the market, and review of clinical data and post-marketing reports. Patients are encouraged to report any side effects to their doctors, and patients or doctors should contact Pfizer Medical Information at 800-438-1985 or visit PfizerMedicalInformation.com regarding any concerns about a Pfizer medicine.
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LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets are not for everyone, including anyone who has previously had an allergic reaction to LIPITOR. It is not for those with liver problems. And it is not for women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant.
If you take LIPITOR® (atorvastatin calcium) tablets, tell your doctor if you feel any new muscle pain or weakness. This could be a sign of rare but serious muscle side effects. Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and all medications you take. This may help avoid serious drug interactions. Your doctor should do blood tests to check your liver function before starting LIPITOR and during your treatment if you have symptoms of liver problems. Tell your doctor if you have diabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels have been reported with statins, including LIPITOR.
Common side effects are diarrhea, upset stomach, muscle and joint pain, and changes in some blood tests.