Zocor (simvastatin) is a prescription medication that has been used by millions of Americans to help lower high cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease. Zocor is in the family of drugs referred to as “statin” medications. Zocor is used in combination with a proper diet to help lower cholesterol and fats (triglycerides) in the blood. Reducing cholesterol and triglycerides help prevent strokes and heart attacks.
This class of drugs has come into question in more recent years following the 2001 recall of Baycol, another popular cholesterol-lowering medication in the statin drug family. Several years ago, Alley, Clark & Greiwe was heavily involved in litigation on behalf of patients who suffered serious and debilitating health problems as a result of taking Baycol, and now the very same problems we saw with Baycol are now being linked at a very high rate to persons taking Zocor at the 80 milligram dose.
Zocor was one of Merck & Co., Inc.’s best selling drugs with $4.4 billion in sales in 2005 alone. Merck lost the patent rights to Zocor in 2006 and sales dipped dramatically when the generic version became available to consumers, usually at a much cheaper price.
How does Zocor Work?
Zocor works by blocking a particular enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase, that controls the rate of cholesterol production in the body. This causes the liver to make less cholesterol. The drug also increases the liver's ability to collect and get rid of LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol), increases HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol), and decreases triglycerides.
What health problems have been associated with Zocor?
On March 19, 2010, the FDA released a Safety Announcement for patients and healthcare professionals about a large clinical trial and other data that showed an increased risk of developing a serious and painful muscle wasting condition called rhabdomyolysis for persons who take the 80 milligram dose of Zocor (the highest approved dosage of the medication) compared to patients taking lower doses of Zocor and possibly other drugs in the statin drug class.
Muscle pain, or myopathy, is a known side effect with all statin medications. Patients with myopathy generally have muscle pain, tenderness or weakness, and an elevation of a muscle enzyme in the blood (creatine kinase). The higher the dose of statin used, the greater the risk of developing myopathy. The risk of myopathy is also increased when Zocor, especially at the higher doses, is combined with other drugs. The most serious form of myopathy is called rhabdomyolysis. It occurs when a protein (myoglobin) is released as muscle fibers break down. Myoglobin can damage the kidneys. Patients with rhabdomyolysis may have dark or red urine and fatigue, in addition to their muscle symptoms. Damage to the kidneys from rhabdomyolysis can be so severe that patients may develop kidney failure, which can be fatal.
What symptoms should I be concerned about?
Please keep in mind that rhabdomyolysis is a very rare syndrome. As with all statin drugs, you should immediately report to your doctor any of the following symptoms:
- Unexplained muscle pain
- Muscle weakness
- Passing of dark urine
If you or a loved one have taken Zocor 80 mg., generic Simvastatin 80 mg., or Vytorin 10/80 (a combination drug containing 80 mg. of Zocor) and have suffered serious muscle and/or kidney problems or were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, please contact Alley, Clark & Greiwe for a free consultation regarding your legal rights. There are statutes of limitations that have already begun with respect to your claim, so please do not delay in taking steps to protect your right to pursue a claim.