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Drugs. 2001;61(12):1835-81.

Atorvastatin: an updated review of its pharmacological properties and use in dyslipidaemia.

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Adis International Limited, Mairangi Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.


Atorvastatin is a synthetic hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitor. In dosages of 10 to 80 mg/day, atorvastatin reduces levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, triglyceride and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)-cholesterol and increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol in patients with a wide variety of dyslipidaemias. In large long-term trials in patients with primary hypercholesterolaemia. atorvastatin produced greater reductions in total cholesterol. LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels than other HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. In patients with coronary heart disease (CHD), atorvastatin was more efficacious than lovastatin, pravastatin. fluvastatin and simvastatin in achieving target LDL-cholesterol levels and, in high doses, produced very low LDL-cholesterol levels. Aggressive reduction of serum LDL-cholesterol to 1.9 mmol/L with atorvastatin 80 mg/day for 16 weeks in patients with acute coronary syndromes significantly reduced the incidence of the combined primary end-point events and the secondary end-point of recurrent ischaemic events requiring rehospitalisation in the large. well-designed MIRACL trial. In the AVERT trial, aggressive lipid-lowering therapy with atorvastatin 80 mg/ day for 18 months was at least as effective as coronary angioplasty and usual care in reducing the incidence of ischaemic events in low-risk patients with stable CHD. Long-term studies are currently investigating the effects of atorvastatin on serious cardiac events and mortality in patients with CHD. Pharmacoeconomic studies have shown lipid-lowering with atorvastatin to be cost effective in patients with CHD, men with at least one risk factor for CHD and women with multiple risk factors for CHD. In available studies atorvastatin was more cost effective than most other HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors in achieving target LDL-cholesterol levels. Atorvastatin is well tolerated and adverse events are usually mild and transient. The tolerability profile of atorvastatin is similar to that of other available HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors and to placebo. Elevations of liver transaminases and creatine phosphokinase are infrequent. There have been rare case reports of rhabdomyolysis occurring with concomitant use of atorvastatin and other drugs.


Atorvastatin is an appropriate first-line lipid-lowering therapy in numerous groups of patients at low to high risk of CHD. Additionally it has a definite role in treating patients requiring greater decreases in LDL-cholesterol levels. Long-term studies are under way to determine whether achieving very low LDL-cholesterol levels with atorvastatin is likely to show additional benefits on morbidity and mortality in patients with CHD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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