Zocor, also sold generically as simvastatin, is a medication that is used to lower a patient’s LDL cholesterol level. Physicians also prescribe the drug to decrease the risk of strokes, heart attacks and death.
Zocor was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. The drug’s popularity has only grown since its approval. Over two million people were prescribed Zocor or its generic version in 2010.
Zocor belongs to a class of medications called statins. Statins work by slowing down the production of cholesterol in the body, so that cholesterol can’t accumulate in the walls of the arteries and block blood flow to the heart, brain and other parts of the body.
Rhabdomylosis Linked to Zocor
While Zocor is popular a popular medication, it has also been linked to adverse side effects. Many patients have reported developing rhabdomyolysis while using Zocor. Rhabdomyolysis is a syndrome that is caused by a muscle injury. It results from the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is harmful to the kidneys and can sometimes lead to kidney failure or death.
Symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include (but are not limimted to):
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle stiffness
- Abnormal urine color (red, dark or cola colored)
- Weight gain
- Joint pain
Zocor users should contact their doctors if they are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Rhabdomyolysis is a treatable condition; patients can recover from it quickly if it is caught in the beginning stages. However, if it goes untreated, it can lead to kidney failure.
FDA Warnings for Zocor
In 2010, the FDA issued a warning to patients and healthcare professionals about the increased risk for muscle injury associated with Zocor. The FDA announced that patients taking the 80mg doses of Zocor (simvastatin) had a 50 times greater risk of developing rhabdomyolysis than patients taking 20mg doses. The government agency also warned that patients using Vytorin, a combination drug containing Zocor, were at risk for muscle injury.
Back in 2002, the FDA issued its first warning about the risk of rhabdomyolysis when Zocor was taken in conjunction with amiodarone. In 2008, the FDA once again warned patients about the risk of rhabdomyolysis. The agency released this warning after patients continued to develop muscle injuries after using Zocor with amiodarone.