ISSUE: The FDA is requesting revisions to the information about use in pregnancy in the prescribing information of the entire class of statin medicines. These changes include removing the contraindication against using these medicines in all pregnant patients. A contraindication is FDA’s strongest warning and is only added when a medicine should not be used because the risk clearly outweighs any possible benefit. Because the benefits of statins may include prevention of serious or potentially fatal events in a small group of very high-risk pregnant patients, contraindicating these drugs in all pregnant women is not appropriate.
FDA expects removing the contraindication will enable health care professionals and patients to make individual decisions about benefit and risk, especially for those at very high risk of heart attack or stroke. This includes patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia and those who have previously had a heart attack or stroke.
BACKGROUND: Statins are a class of prescription medicines that have been used for decades to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C or “bad”) cholesterol in the blood. Medicines in the statin class include atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pitavastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, and simvastatin.
- Patients: Patients taking statins should notify their health care professionals if they become pregnant or suspect they are pregnant. Your health care professional will be able to advise whether you should stop taking the medicine during pregnancy and whether you may stop your statin temporarily while breastfeeding. Patients who are at high risk of heart attack or stroke who require statins after giving birth should not breastfeed and should use alternatives such as infant formula.
- Health Care Professionals: Health care professionals should discontinue statin therapy in most pregnant patients, or they can consider the ongoing therapeutic needs of the individual patient, particularly those at very high risk for cardiovascular events during pregnancy. Because of the chronic nature of cardiovascular disease, treatment of hyperlipidemia is not generally necessary during pregnancy. Discuss with patients whether they may discontinue statins temporarily while breastfeeding. Advise those who require a statin because of their cardiovascular risk that breastfeeding is not recommended because the medicine may pass into breast milk
The FDA hopes the revised language in the prescribing information will help reassure health care professionals that statins are safe to prescribe in patients who can become pregnant, and help them reassure patients with unintended statin exposure in early pregnancy or before pregnancy is recognized that the medicine is unlikely to harm the unborn baby.
🔔 Why is this medication prescribed?
Lovastatin is used together with diet, weight-loss, and exercise to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke and to decrease the chance that heart surgery will be needed in people who have heart disease or who are at risk of developing heart disease. Lovastatin is also used to decrease the amount of cholesterol (a fat-like substance) and other fatty substances in the blood. Lovastatin is in a class of medications called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (statins). It works by slowing the production of cholesterol in the body to decrease the amount of cholesterol that may build up on the walls of the arteries and block blood flow to the heart, brain, and other parts of the body.
Americans see their primary care doctors less often than they did a decade ago. Adults under 65 made nearly 25% fewer visits to primary care providers in 2016 than they did in 2018, according to National Public Radio. In the same time period, the number of adults who went at least a year without visiting a primary care provider increased from 38% to 46%.
Accumulation of cholesterol and fats along the walls of your arteries (a process known as atherosclerosis) decreases blood flow and, therefore, the oxygen supply to your heart, brain, and other parts of your body. Lowering your blood level of cholesterol and fats with lovastatin may help prevent heart disease, angina (chest pain), strokes, and heart attacks.
🔔 How should this medicine be used?
Lovastatin comes as a tablet and an extended-release (long-acting) tablet to take by mouth. The regular tablet usually is taken once or twice a day with meals. The extended-release tablet usually is taken once a day at bedtime. Take lovastatin at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take lovastatin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Swallow the extended-release tablets whole; do not split, chew, or crush them.
Your doctor may start you on a low dose of lovastatin and gradually increase your dose, not more than once every 4 weeks.
Continue to take lovastatin even if you feel well. Do not stop taking lovastatin without talking to your doctor.
🔔 Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.