HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) are the mainstay in the pharmacologic management of dyslipidemia. Since they are widely prescribed, their safety remains an issue of concern. Rosuvastatin has been proven to be efficacious in improving serum lipid profiles. Recently published data from the JUPITER study confirmed the efficacy of this statin in primary prevention for older patients with multiple risk factors and evidence of inflammation.
Rosuvastatin exhibits high hydrophilicity and hepatoselectivity, as well as low systemic bioavailability, while undergoing minimal metabolism via the cytochrome P450 system. Therefore, rosuvastatin has an interesting pharmacokinetic profile that is different from that of other statins. However, it remains to be established whether this may translate into a better safety profile and fewer drug-drug interactions for this statin compared with others. Herein, we review evidence with regard to the safety of this statin as well as its interactions with agents commonly prescribed in the clinical setting.
As with other statins, rosuvastatin treatment is associated with relatively low rates of severe myopathy, rhabdomyolysis, and renal failure. Asymptomatic liver enzyme elevations occur with rosuvastatin at a similarly low incidence as with other statins. Rosuvastatin treatment has also been associated with adverse effects related to the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system, which are also commonly observed with many other drugs. Proteinuria induced by rosuvastatin is likely to be associated with a statin-provoked inhibition of low-molecular-weight protein reabsorption by the renal tubules. Higher doses of rosuvastatin have been associated with cases of renal failure. Also, the co-administration of rosuvastatin with drugs that increase rosuvastatin blood levels may be deleterious for the kidney. Furthermore, rhabdomyolysis, considered a class effect of statins, is known to involve renal damage. Concerns have been raised by findings from the JUPITER study suggesting that rosuvastatin may slightly increase the incidence of physician-reported diabetes mellitus, as well as the levels of glycated hemoglobin in older patients with multiple risk factors and low-grade inflammation. Clinical trials proposed no increase in the incidence of neoplasias with rosuvastatin treatment compared with placebo.
Drugs that antagonize organic anion transporter protein 1B1-mediated hepatic uptake of rosuvastatin are more likely to interact with this statin. Clinicians should be cautious when rosuvastatin is co-administered with vitamin K antagonists, cyclosporine (ciclosporin), gemfibrozil, and antiretroviral agents since a potential pharmacokinetic interaction with those drugs may increase the risk of toxicity. On the other hand, rosuvastatin combination treatment with fenofibrate, ezetimibe, omega-3-fatty acids, antifungal azoles, rifampin (rifampicin), or clopidogrel seems to be safe, as there is no evidence to support any pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interaction of rosuvastatin with any of these drugs.
Rosuvastatin therefore appears to be relatively safe and well tolerated, sharing the adverse effects that are considered class effects of statins. Practitioners of all medical practices should be alert when rosuvastatin is prescribed concomitantly with agents that may increase the risk of rosuvastatin-associated toxicity.
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This review was prepared independently; no company or institution supported it financially. Drs Milionis and Elisaf have given talks, attended conferences, and participated in trials sponsored by AstraZeneca. Dr Kostapanos has no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review. Industry had no role in the design, conduct, analysis, or publication of this review.
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Kostapanos, M.S., Milionis, H.J. & Elisaf, M.S. Rosuvastatin-Associated Adverse Effects and Drug-Drug Interactions in the Clinical Setting of Dyslipidemia. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs 10, 11–28 (2010). https://doi.org/10.2165/13168600-000000000-00000