Medically reviewed by Militian Inessa Mesropovna, PharmD. Last updated on 2020-03-27
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Therapy with lipid-altering agents should be only one component of multiple risk factor intervention in individuals at significantly increased risk for atherosclerotic vascular disease due to hypercholesterolemia. Drug therapy is indicated as an adjunct to diet when the response to a diet restricted in saturated fat and cholesterol and other nonpharmacologic measures alone has been inadequate.
Alkor Plus® is indicated for the reduction of elevated total cholesterol (total-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), apolipoprotein B (Apo B), triglycerides (TG), and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C), and to increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) in patients with primary (heterozygous familial and non-familial) hyperlipidemia or mixed hyperlipidemia.
Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (HoFH)
Alkor Plus is indicated for the reduction of elevated total-C and LDL-C in patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, as an adjunct to other lipid-lowering treatments (e.g., LDL apheresis) or if such treatments are unavailable.
Limitations Of Use
No incremental benefit of Alkor Plus on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality over and above that demonstrated for simvastatin has been established.
Alkor Plus has not been studied in Fredrickson type I, III, IV, and V dyslipidemias.
The usual dosage range is 10/10 mg/day to 10/40 mg/day. The recommended usual starting dose is 10/10 mg/day or 10/20 mg/day. Alkor Plus should be taken as a single daily dose in the evening, with or without food. Patients who require a larger reduction in LDL-C (greater than 55%) may be started at 10/40 mg/day in the absence of moderate to severe renal impairment (estimated glomerular filtration rate less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m²). After initiation or titration of Alkor Plus, lipid levels may be analyzed after 2 or more weeks and dosage adjusted, if needed.
Restricted Dosing For 10/80 mg
Due to the increased risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, particularly during the first year of treatment, use of the 10/80-mg dose of Alkor Plus should be restricted to patients who have been taking Alkor Plus 10/80 mg chronically (e.g., for 12 months or more) without evidence of muscle toxicity.
Patients who are currently tolerating the 10/80-mg dose of Alkor Plus who need to be initiated on an interacting drug that is contraindicated or is associated with a dose cap for simvastatin should be switched to an alternative statin or statin-based regimen with less potential for the drug-drug interaction.
Due to the increased risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, associated with the 10/80-mg dose of Alkor Plus, patients unable to achieve their LDL-C goal utilizing the 10/40-mg dose of Alkor Plus should not be titrated to the 10/80-mg dose, but should be placed on alternative LDL-C-lowering treatment(s) that provides greater LDL-C lowering.
Coadministration With Other Drugs
Patients taking Verapamil, Diltiazem, or Dronedarone
- The dose of Alkor Plus should not exceed 10/10 mg/day.
Patients taking Amiodarone, Amlodipine or Ranolazine
- The dose of Alkor Plus should not exceed 10/20 mg/day.
Patients taking Bile Acid Sequestrants
- Dosing of Alkor Plus should occur either greater than or equal to 2 hours before or greater than or equal to 4 hours after administration of a bile acid sequestrant.
Patients With Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia
The recommended dosage for patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia is Alkor Plus 10/40 mg/day in the evening. Alkor Plus should be used as an adjunct to other lipid-lowering treatments (e.g., LDL apheresis) in these patients or if such treatments are unavailable.
Simvastatin exposure is approximately doubled with concomitant use of lomitapide; therefore, the dose of Alkor Plus should be reduced by 50% if initiating lomitapide. Alkor Plus dosage should not exceed 10/20 mg/day (or 10/40 mg/day for patients who have previously taken simvastatin 80 mg/day chronically, e.g., for 12 months or more, without evidence of muscle toxicity) while taking lomitapide.
Patients With Renal Impairment/Chronic Kidney Disease
In patients with mild renal impairment (estimated GFR greater than or equal to 60 mL/min/1.73 m²), no dosage adjustment is necessary. In patients with chronic kidney disease and estimated glomerular filtration rate less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m², the dose of Alkor Plus is 10/20 mg/day in the evening. In such patients, higher doses should be used with caution and close monitoring.
No dosage adjustment is necessary in geriatric patients.
Chinese Patients Taking Lipid-Modifying Doses (greater than or equal to 1 g/day Niacin) Of Niacin-Containing Products
Because of an increased risk for myopathy in Chinese patients taking simvastatin 40 mg coadministered with lipid-modifying doses (greater than or equal to 1 g/day niacin) of niacin-containing products, caution should be used when treating Chinese patients with Alkor Plus doses exceeding 10/20 mg/day coadministered with lipid-modifying doses (greater than or equal to 1 g/day niacin) of niacin-containing products. Because the risk for myopathy is dose-related, Chinese patients should not receive Alkor Plus 10/80 mg coadministered with lipid-modifying doses of niacin-containing products. The cause of the increased risk of myopathy is not known. It is also unknown if the risk for myopathy with coadministration of simvastatin with lipid-modifying doses of niacin-containing products observed in Chinese patients applies to other Asian patients.
Alkor Plus is contraindicated in the following conditions:
- Concomitant administration of strong CYP3A4 inhibitors (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, HIV protease inhibitors, boceprevir, telaprevir, erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin, nefazodone, and cobicistat-containing products).
- Concomitant administration of gemfibrozil, cyclosporine, or danazol.
- Hypersensitivity to any component of this medication.
- Active liver disease or unexplained persistent elevations in hepatic transaminase levels.
- Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. Serum cholesterol and triglycerides increase during normal pregnancy, and cholesterol or cholesterol derivatives are essential for fetal development. Because HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), such as simvastatin, decrease cholesterol synthesis and possibly the synthesis of other biologically active substances derived from cholesterol, Alkor Plus may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Atherosclerosis is a chronic process and the discontinuation of lipid-lowering drugs during pregnancy should have little impact on the outcome of long-term therapy of primary hypercholesterolemia. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of Alkor Plus use during pregnancy; however, in rare reports congenital anomalies were observed following intrauterine exposure to statins. In rat and rabbit animal reproduction studies, simvastatin revealed no evidence of teratogenicity. Alkor Plus should be administered to women of childbearing age only when such patients are highly unlikely to conceive. If the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, Alkor Plus should be discontinued immediately and the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus.
- Nursing mothers. It is not known whether simvastatin is excreted into human milk; however, a small amount of another drug in this class does pass into breast milk. Because statins have the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, women who require Alkor Plus treatment should not breastfeed their infants.
Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.
Simvastatin occasionally causes myopathy manifested as muscle pain, tenderness or weakness with creatine kinase 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 rare fatalities have occurred. The risk of myopathy is increased by high levels of statin activity in plasma. Predisposing factors for myopathy include advanced age ( ≥ 65 years), female gender, uncontrolled hypothyroidism, and renal impairment.
The risk of myopathy, including 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% and 0.08% at 20 and 40 mg/day, respectively. The incidence of myopathy with 80 mg (0.61%) was disproportionately higher than that observed at the lower doses. In these trials, patients were carefully monitored and some interacting medicinal products were excluded.
In a clinical trial in which 12,064 patients with a history of myocardial infarction were treated with simvastatin (mean follow-up 6.7 years), the incidence of myopathy (defined as unexplained muscle weakness or pain with a serum creatine kinase [CK] > 10 times upper limit of normal [ULN]) in patients on 80 mg/day was approximately 0.9% compared with 0.02% for patients on 20 mg/day. The incidence of rhabdomyolysis (defined as myopathy with a CK > 40 times ULN) in patients on 80 mg/day was approximately 0.4% compared with 0% for patients on 20 mg/day. The incidence of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, was highest during the first year and then notably decreased during the subsequent years of treatment. In this trial, patients were carefully monitored and some interacting medicinal products were excluded.
The risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, is greater in patients on simvastatin 80 mg compared with other statin therapies with similar or greater LDL-C-lowering efficacy and compared with lower doses of simvastatin. Therefore, the 10/80-mg dos e of Alkor Plus should be used only in patients who have been taking Alkor Plus 10/80 mg chronically (e.g., for 12 months or more) without evidence of muscle toxicity. If, however, a patient who is currently tolerating the 10/80-mg dose of Alkor Plus needs to be initiated on an interacting drug that is contraindicated or is associated with a dose cap for simvastatin, that patient should be switched to an alternative statin or statinbased regimen with less potential for the drug-drug interaction. Patients should be advised of the increased risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, and to report promptly any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness. If symptoms occur, treatment should be discontinued immediately.
In the Study of Heart and Renal Protection (SHARP), 9270 patients with chronic kidney disease were allocated to receive Alkor Plus 10/20 mg daily (n=4650) or placebo (n=4620). During a median follow-up period of 4.9 years, the incidence of myopathy (defined as unexplained muscle weakness or pain with a serum creatine kinase [CK] > 10 times upper limit of normal [ULN]) was 0.2% for Alkor Plus and 0.1% for placebo: the incidence of rhabdomyolysis (defined as myopathy with a CK > 40 times ULN) was 0.09% for Alkor Plus and 0.02% for placebo.
In postmarketing experience with ezetimibe, cases of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis have been reported. Most patients who developed rhabdomyolysis were taking a statin prior to initiating ezetimibe. However, rhabdomyolysis has been reported with ezetimibe monotherapy and with the addition of ezetimibe to agents known to be associated with increased risk of rhabdomyolysis, such as fibric acid derivatives. Alkor Plus and a fenofibrate, if taking concomitantly, should both be immediately discontinued if myopathy is diagnosed or suspected.
There have been rare reports of immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM), an autoimmune myopathy, associated with statin use. IMNM is characterized by: 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.
All patients starting therapy with Alkor Plus or whose dose of Alkor Plus is being increased should be advised of the risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, and told to report promptly any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness particularly if accompanied by malaise or fever or if muscle signs and symptoms persist after discontinuing Alkor Plus. Alkor Plus therapy should be discontinued immediately if myopathyis diagnosed or suspected. In most cases, muscle symptoms and CK increases resolved when simvastatin treatment was promptly discontinued. Periodic CK determinations may be considered in patients starting therapy with Alkor Plus or whose dose is being increased, but there is no assurance that such monitoring will prevent myopathy.
Many of the patients who have developed rhabdomyolysis on therapy with simvastatin have had complicated medical histories, including renal insufficiency usually as a consequence of long-standing diabetes mellitus. Such patients taking Alkor Plus merit closer monitoring.
Alkor Plus therapy should be discontinued if markedly elevated CPK levels occur or myopathy is diagnosed or suspected. Alkor Plus therapy should also be temporarily withheld in any patient experiencing an acute or serious condition predisposing to the development of renal failure secondary to rhabdomyolysis, e.g., sepsis; hypotension; major surgery; trauma; severe metabolic, endocrine, or electrolyte disorders; or uncontrolled epilepsy.
The risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis is increased by high levels of statin activity in plasma. Simvastatin is metabolized by the cytochrome P450 isoform 3A4. Certain drugs that inhibit this metabolic pathway can raise the plasma levels of simvastatin and may increase the risk of myopathy. These include itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, and voriconazole, the macrolide antibiotics erythromycin and clarithromycin, and the ketolide antibiotic telithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors, boceprevir, telaprevir, the antidepressant nefazodone, cobicistat-containing products, or grapefruit juice. Combination of these drugs with Alkor Plus is contraindicated. If short-term treatment with strong CYP3A4 inhibitors is unavoidable, therapy with Alkor Plus must be suspended during the course of treatment.
The combined use of Alkor Plus with gemfibrozil, cyclosporine, or danazol is contraindicated.
Caution should be used when prescribing fenofibrates with Alkor Plus, as these agents can cause myopathy when given alone and the risk is increased when they are coadministered.
Cases of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, have been reported with simvastatin coadministered with colchicine, and caution should be exercised when prescribing Alkor Plus with colchicine.
The benefits of the combined use of Alkor Plus with the following drugs should be carefully weighed against the potential risks of combinations: other lipid-lowering drugs (fenofibrates, ≥ 1 g/day of niacin, or, for patients with HoFH, lomitapide), amiodarone, dronedarone, verapamil, diltiazem, amlodipine, or ranolazine [also see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, Patients with Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia].
Cases of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, have been observed with simvastatin coadministered with lipid-modifying doses ( ≥ 1 g/day niacin) of niacin-containing products. In an ongoing, double-blind, randomized cardiovascular outcomes trial, an independent safety monitoring committee identified that the incidence of myopathy is higher in Chinese compared with non-Chinese patients taking simvastatin 40 mg or ezetimibe/simvastatin 10/40 mg coadministered with lipid-modifying doses of a niacincontaining product. Caution should be used when treating Chinese patients with Alkor Plus in doses exceeding 10/20 mg/day coadministered with lipid-modifying doses of niacin-containing products.Â Because the risk for myopathy is dose-related, Chinese patients should not receive Alkor Plus 10/80 mg coadministered with lipid-modifying doses of niacin-containing products. It is unknown if the risk for myopathy with coadministration of simvastatin with lipid-modifying doses of niacin-containing products observed in Chinese patients applies to other Asian patients.
Prescribing recommendations for interacting agents are summarized in Table 1.
Table 1: Drug Interactions Associated with Increased Risk of Myopathy/Rhabdomyolysis
|Interacting Agents||Prescribing Recommendations|
|Strong CYP3A4 Inhibitors, e.g.:||Contraindicated with Alkor Plus|
|HIV protease inhibitors|
|Verapamil||Do not exceed 10/10 mg Alkor Plus daily|
|Amiodarone||Do not exceed 10/20 mg Alkor Plus daily|
|Lomitapide||For patients with HoFH, do not exceed 10/20 mg Alkor Plus daily*|
|Grapefruit juice||Avoid grapefruit juice|
|*For patients with HoFH who have been taking 80 mg simvastatin chronically (e.g., for 12 months or more) without evidence of muscle toxicity, do not exceed 10/4 0 mg Alkor Plus when taking lomitapide.|
In three placebo-controlled, 12-week trials, the incidence of consecutive elevations ( ≥ 3 X ULN) in serum transaminases was 1.7% overall for patients treated with Alkor Plus and appeared to be doserelated with an incidence of 2.6% for patients treated with Alkor Plus 10/80. In controlled long-term (48-week) extensions, which included both newly-treated and previously-treated patients, the incidence of consecutive elevations ( ≥ 3 X ULN) in serum transaminases was 1.8% overall and 3.6% for patients treated with Alkor Plus 10/80. These elevations in transaminases were generally asymptomatic, not associated with cholestasis, and returned to baseline after discontinuation of therapy or with continued treatment.
In SHARP, 9270 patients with chronic kidney disease were allocated to receive Alkor Plus 10/20 mg daily (n=4650), or placebo (n=4620). During a median follow-up period of 4.9 years, the incidence of consecutive elevations of transaminases ( > 3 x ULN) was 0.7% for Alkor Plus and 0.6% for placebo.
It is recommended that liver function tests be performed before the initiation of treatment with Alkor Plus, and thereafter when clinically indicated. There have been rare postmarketing reports of fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure in patients taking statins, including simvastatin. If serious liver injury with clinical symptoms and/or hyperbilirubinemia or jaundice occurs during treatment with Alkor Plus, promptly interrupt therapy. If an alternate etiology is not found do not restart Alkor Plus. Note that ALT may emanate from muscle, therefore ALT rising with CK may indicate myopathy.
Alkor Plus should be used with caution in patients who consume substantial quantities of alcohol and/or have a past history of liver disease. Active liver diseases or unexplained persistent transaminase elevations are contraindications to the use of Alkor Plus.
Increases in HbA1c and fasting serum glucose levels have been reported with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, including simvastatin.
Patient Counseling Information
Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (PATIENT INFORMATION).
Patients should be advised to adhere to their National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP)- recommended diet, a regular exercise program, and periodic testing of a fasting lipid panel.
Patients should be advised about substances they should not take concomitantly with Alkor Plus. Patients should also be advised to inform other healthcare professionals prescribing a new medication or increasing the dose of an existing medication that they are taking Alkor Plus.
All patients starting therapy with Alkor Plus should be advised of the risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, and told to report promptly any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness particularly if accompanied by malaise or fever or if these muscle signs or symptoms persist after discontinuing Alkor Plus. Patients using the 10/80-mg dose should be informed that the risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis , is increased with the us e of the 10/80-mg dose. The risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, occurring with use of Alkor Plus is increased when taking certain types of medication or consuming grapefruit juice. Patients should discuss all medication, both prescription and over the counter, with their healthcare professional.
It is recommended that liver function tests be performed before the initiation of Alkor Plus, and thereafter when clinically indicated. All patients treated with Alkor Plus should be advised to report promptly any symptoms that may indicate liver injury, including fatigue, anorexia, right upper abdominal discomfort, dark urine or jaundice.
Women of childbearing age should be advised to use an effective method of birth control to prevent pregnancy while using Alkor Plus. Discuss future pregnancy plans with your patients, and discuss when to stop taking Alkor Plus if they are trying to conceive. Patients should be advised that if they become pregnant they should stop taking Alkor Plus and call their healthcare professional.
Women who are breastfeeding should be advised to not use Alkor Plus. Patients who have a lipid disorder and are breastfeeding should be advised to discuss the options with their healthcare professional.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
No animal carcinogenicity or fertility studies have been conducted with the combination of ezetimibe and simvastatin. The combination of ezetimibe with simvastatin did not show evidence of mutagenicity in vitro in a microbial mutagenicity (Ames) test with Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli with or without metabolic activation. No evidence of clastogenicity was observed in vitro in a chromosomal aberration assay in human peripheral blood lymphocytes with ezetimibe and simvastatin with or without metabolic activation. There was no evidence of genotoxicity at doses up to 600 mg/kg with the combination of ezetimibe and simvastatin (1:1) in the in vivo mouse micronucleus test.
A 104-week dietary carcinogenicity study with ezetimibe was conducted in rats at doses up to 1500 mg/kg/day (males) and 500 mg/kg/day (females) (~20 times the human exposure at 10 mg daily based on AUC0-24h for total ezetimibe). A 104-week dietary carcinogenicity study with ezetimibe was also conducted in mice at doses up to 500 mg/kg/day ( > 150 times the human exposure at 10 mg daily based on AUC0-24h for total ezetimibe). There were no statistically significant increases in tumor incidences in drug-treated rats or mice.
No evidence of mutagenicity was observed in vitro in a microbial mutagenicity (Ames) test with Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli with or without metabolic activation. No evidence of clastogenicity was observed in vitro in a chromosomal aberration assay in human peripheral blood lymphocytes with or without metabolic activation. In addition, there was no evidence of genotoxicity in the in vivo mouse micronucleus test.
In oral (gavage) fertility studies of ezetimibe conducted in rats, there was no evidence of reproductive toxicity at doses up to 1000 mg/kg/day in male or female rats (~7 times the human exposure at 10 mg daily based on AUC for total ezetimibe).
In a 72-week carcinogenicity study, mice were administered daily doses of simvastatin of 25, 100, and 400 mg/kg body weight, which resulted in mean plasma drug levels approximately 1, 4, and 8 times higher than the mean human plasma drug level, respectively, (as total inhibitory activity based on AUC) after an 80-mg oral dose. Liver carcinomas were significantly increased in high-dose females and midand high-dose males with a maximum incidence of 90% in males. The incidence of adenomas of the liver was significantly increased in mid- and high-dose females. Drug treatment also significantly increased the incidence of lung adenomas in mid- and high-dose males and females. Adenomas of the Harderian gland (a gland of the eye of rodents) were significantly higher in high-dose mice than in controls. No evidence of a tumorigenic effect was observed at 25 mg/kg/day.
In a separate 92-week carcinogenicity study in mice at doses up to 25 mg/kg/day, no evidence of a tumorigenic effect was observed (mean plasma drug levels were 1 times higher than humans given 80 mg simvastatin as measured by AUC).
In a two-year study in rats at 25 mg/kg/day, there was a statistically significant increase in the incidence of thyroid follicular adenomas in female rats exposed to approximately 11 times higher levels of simvastatin than in humans given 80 mg simvastatin (as measured by AUC).
A second two-year rat carcinogenicity study with doses of 50 and 100 mg/kg/day produced hepatocellular adenomas and carcinomas (in female rats at both doses and in males at 100 mg/kg/day). Thyroid follicular cell adenomas were increased in males and females at both doses; thyroid follicular cell carcinomas were increased in females at 100 mg/kg/day. The increased incidence of thyroid neoplasms appears to be consistent with findings from other statins. These treatment levels represented plasma drug levels (AUC) of approximately 7 and 15 times (males) and 22 and 25 times (females) the mean human plasma drug exposure after an 80-mg daily dose.
No evidence of mutagenicity was observed in a microbial mutagenicity (Ames) test with or without rat or mouse liver metabolic activation. In addition, no evidence of damage to genetic material was noted in an in vitro alkaline elution assay using rat hepatocytes, a V-79 mammalian cell forward mutation study, an in vitro chromosome aberration study in CHO cells, or an in vivo chromosomal aberration assay in mouse bone marrow.
There was decreased fertility in male rats treated with simvastatin for 34 weeks at 25 mg/kg body weight (4 times the maximum human exposure level, based on AUC, in patients receiving 80 mg/day); however, this effect was not observed during a subsequent fertility study in which simvastatin was administered at this same dose level to male rats for 11 weeks (the entire cycle of spermatogenesis including epididymal maturation). No microscopic changes were observed in the testes of rats from either study. At 180 mg/kg/day (which produces exposure levels 22 times higher than those in humans taking 80 mg/day based on surface area, mg/m²), seminiferous tubule degeneration (necrosis and loss of spermatogenic epithelium) was observed. In dogs, there was drug-related testicular atrophy, decreased spermatogenesis, spermatocytic degeneration and giant cell formation at 10 mg/kg/day (approximately 2 times the human exposure, based on AUC, at 80 mg/day). The clinical significance of these findings is unclear.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category X.
Alkor Plus is contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant. Lipid-lowering drugs offer no benefit during pregnancy, because cholesterol and cholesterol derivatives are needed for normal fetal development. Atherosclerosis is a chronic process, and discontinuation of lipid-lowering drugs during pregnancy should have little impact on long-term outcomes of primary hypercholesterolemia therapy. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of Alkor Plus use during pregnancy; however, there are rare reports of congenital anomalies in infants exposed to statins in utero. Animal reproduction studies of simvastatin in rats and rabbits showed no evidence of teratogenicity. Serum cholesterol and triglycerides increase during normal pregnancy, and cholesterol or cholesterol derivatives are essential for fetal development. Because statins, such as simvastatin, decrease cholesterol synthesis and possibly the synthesis of other biologically active substances derived from cholesterol, Alkor Plus may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. If Alkor Plus is used during pregnancy or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus.
Women of childbearing potential, who require Alkor Plus treatment for a lipid disorder, should be advised to use effective contraception. For women trying to conceive, discontinuation of Alkor Plus should be considered. If pregnancy occurs, Alkor Plus should be immediately discontinued.
In oral (gavage) embryo-fetal development studies of ezetimibe conducted in rats and rabbits during organogenesis, there was no evidence of embryolethal effects at the doses tested (250, 500, 1000 mg/kg/day). In rats, increased incidences of common fetal skeletal findings (extra pair of thoracic ribs, unossified cervical vertebral centra, shortened ribs) were observed at 1000 mg/kg/day (~10 times the human exposure at 10 mg daily based on AUC0-24hr for total ezetimibe). In rabbits treated with ezetimibe, an increased incidence of extra thoracic ribs was observed at 1000 mg/kg/day (150 times the human exposure at 10 mg daily based on AUC0-24hr for total ezetimibe). Ezetimibe crossed the placenta when pregnant rats and rabbits were given multiple oral doses.
Multiple-dose studies of ezetimibe coadministered with statins in rats and rabbits during organogenesis result in higher ezetimibe and statin exposures. Reproductive findings occur at lower doses in coadministration therapy compared to monotherapy.
Simvastatin was not teratogenic in rats or rabbits at doses (25, 10 mg/kg/day, respectively) that resulted in 3 times the human exposure based on mg/m² surface area. However, in studies with another structurally-related statin, skeletal malformations were observed in rats and mice.
There are rare reports of congenital anomalies following intrauterine exposure to statins. In a review1 of approximately 100 prospectively followed pregnancies in women exposed to simvastatin or another structurally-related statin, the incidences of congenital anomalies, spontaneous abortions and fetal deaths/stillbirths did not exceed what would be expected in the general population. The number of cases is adequate only to exclude a 3- to 4-fold increase in congenital anomalies over the background incidence. In 89% of the prospectively followed pregnancies, drug treatment was initiated prior to pregnancy and was discontinued at some point in the first trimester when pregnancy was identified.
It is not known whether simvastatin is excreted in human milk. Because a small amount of another drug in this class is excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, women taking simvastatin should not nurse their infants. A decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
In rat studies, exposure to ezetimibe in nursing pups was up to half of that observed in maternal plasma. It is not known whether ezetimibe or simvastatin are excreted into human breast milk. Because a small amount of another drug in the same class as simvastatin is excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, women who are nursing should not take Alkor Plus.
The effects of ezetimibe coadministered with simvastatin (n=126) compared to simvastatin monotherapy (n=122) have been evaluated in adolescent boys and girls with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH). In a multicenter, double-blind, controlled study followed by an openlabel phase, 142 boys and 106 postmenarchal girls, 10 to 17 years of age (mean age 14.2 years, 43% females, 82% Caucasians, 4% Asian, 2% Blacks, 13% multiracial) with HeFH were randomized to receive either ezetimibe coadministered with simvastatin or simvastatin monotherapy. Inclusion in the study required 1) a baseline LDL-C level between 160 and 400 mg/dL and 2) a medical history and clinical presentation consistent with HeFH. The mean baseline LDL-C value was 225 mg/dL (range: 161-351 mg/dL) in the ezetimibe coadministered with simvastatin group compared to 219 mg/dL (range: 149-336 mg/dL) in the simvastatin monotherapy group. The patients received coadministered ezetimibe and simvastatin (10 mg, 20 mg, or 40 mg) or simvastatin monotherapy (10 mg, 20 mg, or 40 mg) for 6 weeks, coadministered ezetimibe and 40 mg simvastatin or 40 mg simvastatin monotherapy for the next 27 weeks, and open-label coadministered ezetimibe and simvastatin (10 mg, 20 mg, or 40 mg) for 20 weeks thereafter.
The results of the study at Week 6 are summarized in Table 3. Results at Week 33 were consistent with those at Week 6.
Table 3: Mean Percent Difference at Week 6 Between the Pooled Ezetimibe Coadministered with Simvastatin Group and the Pooled Simvastatin Monotherapy Group in Adolescent Patients with Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia
|Total-C||LDL-C||Apo B||Non-HDL- C||TG*||HDL-C|
|Mean percent difference between treatment groups 95% Confidence Interval||-12% (-15%, -9%)||-15% (-18%, -12%)||-12% (-15%, -9%)||-14% (-17%, -11%)||-2% (-9, +4)||+0.1% (-3, +3)|
|* For triglycerides, median % change from baseline.|
From the start of the trial to the end of Week 33, discontinuations due to an adverse reaction occurred in 7 (6%) patients in the ezetimibe coadministered with simvastatin group and in 2 (2%) patients in the simvastatin monotherapy group.
During the trial, hepatic transaminase elevations (two consecutive measurements for ALT and/or AST ≥ 3 X ULN) occurred in four (3%) individuals in the ezetimibe coadministered with simvastatin group and in two (2%) individuals in the simvastatin monotherapy group. Elevations of CPK ( ≥ 10 X ULN) occurred in two (2%) individuals in the ezetimibe coadministered with simvastatin group and in zero individuals in the simvastatin monotherapy group.
In this limited controlled study, there was no significant effect on growth or sexual maturation in the adolescent boys or girls, or on menstrual cycle length in girls.
Coadministration of ezetimibe with simvastatin at doses greater than 40 mg/day has not been studied in adolescents. Also, Alkor Plus has not been studied in patients younger than 10 years of age or in premenarchal girls.
Based on total ezetimibe (ezetimibe + ezetimibe-glucuronide) there are no pharmacokinetic differences between adolescents and adults. Pharmacokinetic data in the pediatric population < 10 years of age are not available.
The pharmacokinetics of simvastatin has not been studied in the pediatric population.
Of the 10,189 patients who received Alkor Plus in clinical studies, 3242 (32%) were 65 and older (this included 844 (8%) who were 75 and older). No overall differences in safety or effectiveness were observed between these subjects and younger subjects, and other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients but greater sensitivity of some older individuals cannot be ruled out. Since advanced age ( ≥ 65 years) is a predisposing factor for myopathy, Alkor Plus should be prescribed with caution in the elderly.
Because advanced age ( ≥ 65 years) is a predisposing factor for myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, Alkor Plus should be prescribed with caution in the elderly. In a clinical trial of patients treated with simvastatin 80 mg/day, patients ≥ 65 years of age had an increased risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, compared to patients < 65 years of age.
In the SHARP trial of 9270 patients with moderate to severe renal impairment (6247 non-dialysis patients with median serum creatinine 2.5 mg/dL and median estimated glomerular filtration rate 25.6 mL/min/1.73 m², and 3023 dialysis patients), the incidence of serious adverse events, adverse events leading to discontinuation of study treatment, or adverse events of special interest (musculoskeletal adverse events, liver enzyme abnormalities, incident cancer) was similar between patients ever assigned to Alkor Plus 10/20 mg (n=4650) or placebo (n=4620) during a median follow-up of 4.9 years. However, because renal impairment is a risk factor for statin-associated myopathy, doses of Alkor Plus exceeding 10/20 mg should be used with caution and close monitoring in patients with moderate to severe renal impairment.
Alkor Plus is contraindicated in patients with active liver disease or unexplained persistent elevations in hepatic transaminases.
The following serious adverse reactions are discussed in greater detail in other sections of the label:
- Rhabdomyolysis and myopathy
- Liver enzyme abnormalities
Clinical Trials Experience
Because clinical studies are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical studies of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical studies of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.
In the Alkor Plus (ezetimibe and simvastatin) placebo-controlled clinical trials database of 1420 patients (age range 20-83 years, 52% women, 87% Caucasians, 3% Blacks, 5% Hispanics, 3% Asians) with a median treatment duration of 27 weeks, 5% of patients on Alkor Plus and 2.2% of patients on placebo discontinued due to adverse reactions.
The most common adverse reactions in the group treated with Alkor Plus that led to treatment discontinuation and occurred at a rate greater than placebo were:
- Increased ALT (0.9%)
- Myalgia (0.6%)
- Increased AST (0.4%)
- Back pain (0.4%)
The most commonly reported adverse reactions (incidence ≥2% and greater than placebo) in controlled clinical trials were: headache (5.8%), increased ALT (3.7%), myalgia (3.6%), upper respiratory tract infection (3.6%), and diarrhea (2.8%).
Alkor Plus has been evaluated for safety in more than 10,189 patients in clinical trials.
Table 2 summarizes the frequency of clinical adverse reactions reported in ≥2% of patients treated with Alkor Plus (n=1420) and at an incidence greater than placebo, regardless of causality assessment, from four placebo-controlled trials.
Table 2*: Clinical Adverse Reactions Occurring in ≥2% of Patients Treated with Alkor Plus and at an Incidence Greater than Placebo, Regardless of Causality
|Body System/Organ Class |
|Alkor Plus† |
|Body as a whole – general disorders|
|Gastrointestinal system disorders|
|Infections and infestations|
|Upper respiratory tract infection||2.7||5.0||5.0||3.6|
|Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders|
|Pain in extremity||1.3||3.0||2.0||2.3|
|*Includes two placebo-controlled combination studies in which the active ingredients equivalent to Alkor Pluswere coadministered and two placebo-controlled studies in which Alkor Plus was administered. |
Study of Heart and Renal Protection
In SHARP, 9270 patients were allocated to Alkor Plus 10/20 mg daily (n=4650) or placebo (n=4620) for a median follow-up period of 4.9 years. The proportion of patients who permanently discontinued study treatment as a result of either an adverse event or abnormal safety blood result was 10.4% vs. 9.8% among patients allocated to Alkor Plus and placebo, respectively. Comparing those allocated to Alkor Plus vs. placebo, the incidence of myopathy (defined as unexplained muscle weakness or pain with a serum CK >10 times ULN) was 0.2% vs. 0.1% and the incidence of rhabdomyolysis (defined as myopathy with a CK >40 times ULN) was 0.09% vs. 0.02%, respectively. Consecutive elevations of transaminases (>3 X ULN) occurred in 0.7% vs. 0.6%, respectively. Patients were asked about the occurrence of unexplained muscle pain or weakness at each study visit: 21.5% vs. 20.9% patients ever reported muscle symptoms in the Alkor Plus and placebo groups, respectively. Cancer was diagnosed during the trial in 9.4% vs. 9.5% of patients assigned to Alkor Plus and placebo, respectively.
Other adverse reactions reported with ezetimibe in placebo-controlled studies, regardless of causality assessment:
Musculoskeletal system disorders: arthralgia;
Infections and infestations: sinusitis;
Body as a whole – general disorders: fatigue.
In a clinical trial in which 12,064 patients with a history of myocardial infarction were treated with simvastatin (mean follow-up 6.7 years), the incidence of myopathy (defined as unexplained muscle weakness or pain with a serum creatine kinase [CK] >10 times upper limit of normal [ULN]) in patients on 80 mg/day was approximately 0.9% compared with 0.02% for patients on 20 mg/day. The incidence of rhabdomyolysis (defined as myopathy with a CK >40 times ULN) in patients on 80 mg/day was approximately 0.4% compared with 0% for patients on 20 mg/day. The incidence of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis, was highest during the first year and then notably decreased during the subsequent years of treatment. In this trial, patients were carefully monitored and some interacting medicinal products were excluded.
Other adverse reactions reported with simvastatin in placebo-controlled clinical studies, regardless of causality assessment:
Cardiac disorders: atrial fibrillation;
Ear and labyrinth disorders: vertigo;
Gastrointestinal disorders: abdominal pain, constipation, dyspepsia, flatulence, gastritis;
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders: eczema, rash;
Endocrine disorders: diabetes mellitus;
Infections and infestations: bronchitis, sinusitis, urinary tract infections;
Body as a whole – general disorders: asthenia, edema/swelling;
Psychiatric disorders: insomnia.
Marked persistent increases of hepatic serum transaminases have been noted. Elevated alkaline phosphatase and γ-glutamyl transpeptidase have been reported. About 5% of patients taking simvastatin had elevations of CK levels of 3 or more times the normal value on one or more occasions. This was attributable to the noncardiac fraction of CK.
Because the below reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is generally not possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.
The following adverse reactions have been reported in postmarketing experience for Alkor Plus or ezetimibe or simvastatin: pruritus; alopecia; erythema multiforme; a variety of skin changes (e.g., nodules, discoloration, dryness of skin/mucous membranes, changes to hair/nails); dizziness; muscle cramps; myalgia; arthralgia; pancreatitis; paresthesia; peripheral neuropathy; vomiting; nausea; anemia; erectile dysfunction; interstitial lung disease; myopathy/rhabdomyolysis ; hepatitis/jaundice; fatal and non-fatal hepatic failure; depression; cholelithiasis; cholecystitis; thrombocytopenia; elevations in liver transaminases; elevated creatine phosphokinase.
There have been rare reports of immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy associated with statin use.
Hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis, angioedema, rash, and urticaria have been reported.
In addition, an apparent hypersensitivity syndrome has been reported rarely that has included one or more of the following features: anaphylaxis, angioedema, lupus erythematous-like syndrome, polymyalgia rheumatica, dermatomyositis, vasculitis, purpura, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, hemolytic anemia, positive ANA, ESR increase, eosinophilia, arthritis, arthralgia, urticaria, asthenia, photosensitivity, fever, chills, flushing, malaise, dyspnea, toxic epidermal necrolysis, erythema multiforme, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
There have been rare postmarketing reports of cognitive impairment (e.g., memory loss, forgetfulness, amnesia, memory impairment, confusion) associated with statin use. These cognitive issues have been reported for all statins. 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).
No specific treatment of overdosage with Alkor Plus can be recommended. In the event of an overdose, symptomatic and supportive measures should be employed.
In clinical studies, administration of ezetimibe, 50 mg/day to 15 healthy subjects for up to 14 days, or 40 mg/day to 18 patients with primary hyperlipidemia for up to 56 days, was generally well tolerated.
A few cases of overdosage have been reported; most have not been associated with adverse experiences. Reported adverse experiences have not been serious.
Significant lethality was observed in mice after a single oral dose of 9 g/m². No evidence of lethality was observed in rats or dogs treated with doses of 30 and 100 g/m², respectively. No specific diagnostic signs were observed in rodents. At these doses the only signs seen in dogs were emesis and mucoid stools.
A few cases of overdosage with simvastatin have been reported; the maximum dose taken was 3.6 g. All patients recovered without sequelae.
The dialyzability of simvastatin and its metabolites in man is not known at present.
Clinical studies have demonstrated that elevated levels of total-C, LDL-C and Apo B, the major protein constituent of LDL, promote human atherosclerosis. In addition, decreased levels of HDL-C are associated with the development of atherosclerosis. Epidemiologic studies have established that cardiovascular morbidity and mortality vary directly with the level of total-C and LDL-C and inversely with the level of HDL-C. Like LDL, cholesterol-enriched triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, including VLDL, intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDL), and remnants, can also promote atherosclerosis. The independent effect of raising HDL-C or lowering TG on the risk of coronary and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality has not been determined.
The results of a bioequivalence study in healthy subjects demonstrated that the Alkor Plus (ezetimibe and simvastatin) 10 mg/10 mg to 10 mg/80 mg combination tablets are bioequivalent to coadministration of corresponding doses of ezetimibe (ZETIA®) and simvastatin (ZOCOR®) as individual tablets.
After oral administration, ezetimibe is absorbed and extensively conjugated to a pharmacologically active phenolic glucuronide (ezetimibe-glucuronide).
The availability of the β-hydroxyacid to the systemic circulation following an oral dose of simvastatin was found to be less than 5% of the dose, consistent with extensive hepatic first-pass extraction.
Effect Of Food On Oral Absorption
Concomitant food administration (high-fat or non-fat meals) had no effect on the extent of absorption of ezetimibe when administered as 10-mg tablets. The Cmax value of ezetimibe was increased by 38% with consumption of high-fat meals.
Relative to the fasting state, the plasma profiles of both active and total inhibitors of HMG-CoA reductase were not affected when simvastatin was administered immediately before an American Heart Association recommended low-fat meal.
Ezetimibe and ezetimibe-glucuronide are highly bound ( > 90%) to human plasma proteins.
Both simvastatin and its β-hydroxyacid metabolite are highly bound (approximately 95%) to human plasma proteins. When radiolabeled simvastatin was administered to rats, simvastatin-derived radioactivity crossed the blood-brain barrier.
Metabolism And Excretion
Ezetimibe is primarily metabolized in the small intestine and liver via glucuronide conjugation with subsequent biliary and renal excretion. Minimal oxidative metabolism has been observed in all species evaluated.
In humans, ezetimibe is rapidly metabolized to ezetimibe-glucuronide. Ezetimibe and ezetimibeglucuronide are the major drug-derived compounds detected in plasma, constituting approximately 10 to 20% and 80 to 90% of the total drug in plasma, respectively. Both ezetimibe and ezetimibe-glucuronide are eliminated from plasma with a half-life of approximately 22 hours for both ezetimibe and ezetimibeglucuronide. Plasma concentration-time profiles exhibit multiple peaks, suggesting enterohepatic recycling.
Following oral administration of 14C-ezetimibe (20 mg) to human subjects, total ezetimibe (ezetimibe + ezetimibe-glucuronide) accounted for approximately 93% of the total radioactivity in plasma. After 48 hours, there were no detectable levels of radioactivity in the plasma.
Approximately 78% and 11% of the administered radioactivity were recovered in the feces and urine, respectively, over a 10-day collection period. Ezetimibe was the major component in feces and accounted for 69% of the administered dose, while ezetimibe-glucuronide was the major component in urine and accounted for 9% of the administered dose.
Simvastatin is a lactone that is readily hydrolyzed in vivo to the corresponding β-hydroxyacid, a potent inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase. Inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase is a basis for an assay in pharmacokinetic studies of the β-hydroxyacid metabolites (active inhibitors) and, following base hydrolysis, active plus latent inhibitors (total inhibitors) in plasma following administration of simvastatin. The major active metabolites of simvastatin present in human plasma are the β-hydroxyacid of simvastatin and its 6'-hydroxy, 6'-hydroxymethyl, and 6'-exomethylene derivatives.
Following an oral dose of 14C-labeled simvastatin in man, 13% of the dose was excreted in urine and 60% in feces. Plasma concentrations of total radioactivity (simvastatin plus 14C-metabolites) peaked at 4 hours and declined rapidly to about 10% of peak by 12 hours postdose.