bottles of crestor lipitor and simvastatin

When Mevacor (lovastatin) was first marketed in 1987 it quickly became a game changer. That’s because it was perceived as extremely effective for lowering cholesterol with far fewer side effects than existing drugs.
Prior to this first statin-type cholesterol-lowering medication there was a certain amount of ambivalence about cholesterol lowering drugs. Lopid (gemfibrozil) was one of the best known and most successful medications prior to Mevacor. It lowered bad LDL cholesterol a modest 11 percent. Although it appeared to reduce the risk of heart attacks, it came with a list of side effects including gallstones, indigestion, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, dizziness, blurred vision, headache, numbness or nerve tingling, lowered libido and erectile dysfunction.
Mevacor seemed like a fabulous alternative and it quickly became the hottest cholesterol-lowering drug on the market. Its success spawned lots of other statins including Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
, Fluvastatin (Lescol)
, Pitavastatin (Livalo)
, Pravastatin (Pravachol)
, Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
, Simvastatin (Zocor)
 and Simvastatin + Ezetimibe (Vytorin).
Initially, most doctors believed that statins had few, if any, side effects. Tens of millions of people were prescribed these drugs even if they had hardly any risk factors for heart disease. In some cases doctors encouraged people to take a statin “just in case,” even if their cholesterol levels were relatively “normal.” The assumption was that the drugs were so safe there was no reason not to take them even if the person was in good health.
When we started hearing reports from people that they were suffering muscle pain and weakness, memory problems, erectile dysfunction, peripheral neuropathy or blood sugar elevations, we were told by some health professionals that these were old folks just showing signs of normal aging. These physicians insisted that such side effects could not possibly be due to statins.
We didn’t buy it, but it was hard to convince some statin enthusiasts that the drugs might be taking a toll on otherwise healthy people. Over the last two decades we have received so many stories from individuals that we could have written a book. In fact we did! We included these stories in two books, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy and Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them. There are also hundreds or reports on this website.
Most physicians now agree that statins can indeed cause muscle pain and weakness. Some acknowledge that there can be cognitive dysfunction for certain patients. There is even data to suggest that statins can cause fatigue, especially after exercise (Archives of Internal Medicine, Aug. 13/27, 2012).
The unanswered question, though, is do some side effects persist, even after the statins have been discontinued. There have been very few studies even examining this issue. One intrepid researcher, Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, has suggested that some individuals are especially susceptible to statin side effects. For them, adverse reactions can be devastating and may linger for a very long time. To hear Dr. Golomb describe this scary scenario, click on the arrow at the top of this page.
We just received a poignant comment from a visitor to this webiste. We felt compelled to share Donna’s story:

“Everyone needs to know that statins can do permanent nerve and muscle damage!
“I stopped taking them more than a year ago and I am still in pain, still can’t walk upstairs without pain and my CK (muscle enzymes) are still elevated; so are my liver enzymes.
Those meds need to be taken off the market. Some people develop rhabdomyolosis from taking statins and some even die from it. They are harmful and there’s no getting around that.
“I have permanent damage to my muscles and they continue to deteriorate. I am frightened and I have undergone many tests, EMG’s (electromyography); MRI’s; multiple blood tests and a deep muscle biopsy. The results of the biopsy were “unspecified inflammatory myopathy”. Since there was no absolute diagnosis of any disease I am left with no treatment.
“The doctor told me not to lift anything heavy and to drink lots and lots of water. I used to walk 2 miles a day and lift free weights to stay in shape. Now I can no longer do that. I can’t sleep soundly anymore. I wake up throughout the night from anxiety now, which I never had before this. I’m scared and don’t know what to do.
I go for a blood test every 3 months to monitor the CK levels, which were at 2010 (the highest they’ve been yet) and that was in July of this year. I’m due for another blood test this month for my annual physical and I’m so afraid they will be higher.
“I hurt all over most of the time but I continue to go to work and try not to think about the pain. There should be a law against this sort of thing. My doctor frightened me into taking them. She told me if I didn’t take them I would die of a heart attack or liver disease. Please pray for me. I’m afraid.”

Even after 25 years of statin experience there is a lot we do not know about such drugs. A recent study revealed what we have worried about for a long time and that is that statins may increase the risk for cataracts. Whether these drugs contribute to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or permanent muscle problems such as those described by Donna above, we do not know. We do know that for otherwise healthy people, there are alternate ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. You can learn about them in our books and guides.
Anyone who would like to share a story (positive or negative) about statins may do so below.

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  1. Linda

    My husband has been on Statins for some time now. He has a lot of pain which we were told was from his herniated disc. Then in January of this year he started having weakness. Now he is unable to walk without a walker. The Doctors can’t figure out what is wrong. They have ran every kind of test! His wbc, sed rate and his heart rate is elevated! We just decided to take him off of the statins ourselves, after hearing about some people we know having side effects.

  2. Cincyesl

    I sympathise with all these stories and the horrible, unexpected side effects of lipitor.
    My question is: Are there any legal actions we can take?

  3. Ellen

    I was put on Lipitor in September 2013. Within 2 weeks I was in so much pain all over I couldn’t hardly move without crying. I was not informed of any side effects to taking this medication. When I called the doctor office his nurse then told me to stop taking the Lipitor because the pain was a side effect.

    It is now 2015 and every day is a struggle to get through because I hurt so bad all over. Sleeping is a major issue because my hips hurt so bad I can’t sleep on my sides. I also have shooting pains in my legs that make it difficult to deal with. Had I been made aware of the problems associated with Lipitor I never would have taken the first one. This drug has forever changed my life. It may be years before this pain stops.

  4. Harmony1

    wondering how to get an automatic notice when someone write to this thread. We could have that on the old thread….help.

    • The People's Pharmacy

      Thanks for your question! There are two ways to do that.

      Way number 1: Leave a new comment and check the box (by clicking on it) that says: “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.”

      Way number 2: Click the link (in dark orange) that says “subscribe” in that same sentence. It will take you to a page where you can enter your email information so that you can be notified when new comments are posted. You do not have to leave a comment to get new notifications if you choose this option.


    I was on atrovastatin, lipitor for only 30 days, I am now turned into a old man due to muscle pain.
    I am scared if this muscle pain will ever go. I am 48 years old and am worried to core.
    please check your response to statins before taking them for a long time.

    • Harmony1

      I have contributed a number of times… prior to the change in the website… then I somehow got lost in the system… so here we go. Let’s really hope that having only taken statins for 30 days Pinaki, that you will find a return to good muscle health… I used them for 10 years… and started heavy duty robust exercising and THAT combined with the statins was a real downer. I am in a wheelchair now… not sure I will ever be able to do robust exercise again. It has been 2 years since I last took a statin…. and yet… only minor improvement the first 6 months afterwards. I am of course discouraged, but try to keep pushing myself to do a little more and a little more – it does move me forward ever so slightly. I was tested for everything under the sun to eliminate other possible issues. My doctor says I am just so so healthy. Great. I’m so glad to hear that. But no one who is as immobile as I am can be called healthy. So… have heart. I have great faith that your muscles will heal. Take some COQ10….. now and for the rest of your life. I buy the most advanced type there, that in fact uses a strange substance found in India! Wishing you better health.

  6. david arias
    los angeles calufornia

    I been raking lopid and I have the same symptoms my stomach hurts, memory loss, my joint hurt, muscle pain, I don’t know what to do neither I’m 5’7 and I weigh 140 pounds I’m not even fat but my tryglocirios are almost 3000

  7. Bencharif
    New York

    I want first to thank The People’s Pharmacy as well as those who have shared their experiences and ideas here. I wish I had come here before taking Lipitor rather than after.

    My travails began when I changed Primary Care Physicians. After testing, my new doctor noted a SLIGHTLY elevated ldl cholesterol level and prescribed Lipitor 10mgs.
    How, I ask myself now, could I have failed to make the connection between this drug and my increasing debility over the next two months?

    Thinking I was dealing with a Sciatica — which I had a bout of 30 years ago — I at first did little, thinking it would go away or, at the most, some physical therapy would solve the problem. I finally woke up one week ago, went online, and discovered the very well documented relationship between statins and excruciating muscle pain.

    I have a doctor’s appointment one week from now (the earliest I could get). I will listen respectfully to the doctor’s analysis and recommendations and then I will do my own research. I feel as though I should have been warned about the possible side effects so that I could have acted sooner.

    I was introducing this statin into my system for two months. From what I’ve read here, I gather it may take quite some time to be rid of the effects — if I can be rid of them at all.

    In closing, I will repeat a question others on this forum have asked: Why isn’t the FDA protecting us from this drug — or mandating warnings to be issued when statins are prescribed?

  8. Christine
    Hollidaysburg, PA

    Checkout Dr. Sinatra’s website
    Listen to what this guy is saying. Anyone taking statins should be taking at least 200 milligrams of CoQ10, per Dr. Sinatra. For those who want to attempt to reverse the side effects of statins, see Dr. Sinatra’s regimen at the following link.
    These are NASTY drugs with NASTY consequences and if the doctors listen to the patient, and that is a big if, they want to prescribe more and more medication to address the side effects. Dr. Sinatra makes sense and I have seen folks use the above regimen and decrease the nasty side effects. It will take awhile as the half life of these statins can be quite a long time.

  9. Jack C.

    I have been taking simvastatin for several years. I am 85 years young and have several health issues but don’t know if any of them are associated with long term use of the statin. I am still reasonably strong for my age. I do have interrupted sleep at night, and walking up hill my hip joints become very sore. as long as I walk on the level I’m ok and can walk about a mile before fatigue takes over. I am currently having gastrointestinal problems but probably not related. I plan to ask my g.p. what he thinks and perhaps cut down to every other day instead of every day. I am diabetic
    and just finished a lab blood workup. everything was ok except my a1c was high. I really feel for those people who are having such problems.

  10. barbara

    Yeah, I was on simvastatin for 2 1/2 years with severe joint pain, muscle pain, memory loss ( short term ) and my doctor said she would not give me anything for the pain until she found out what was causing it. Send ing me from specialist to specialist, 2 and a half years later a rheumatologist said I have fibromyalgia, went to another rheumatologist, she said it was the simvastatin. Its been six horrifying years and I’m still unable to work or lift anything of little weight. Before this I was a strong, healthy 48 year old female. Life sucks now, and no doctor will say it was the simvastatin for sure.

  11. william m

    I was put on pravastatin back in 2010 after a heart attack. Took drug for one year and then stopped due to loss of job. Muscle/joint pain was and is excruciating at times. Only now three years later has any let up of pain occurred . Doctors have said this is not from statin use as it’s been too long a time . While my cholesterol remains high all other numbers are normal . Anyone out there with sustained pain while not on statins . At this point I’m beginning to doubt myself . One doctor tried to convince me this was fibromyalgia . That when statin toxicity ceased this other thing took over .Doesn’t ring true and no doctor gave nothing for his diagnosis .Still hurt

  12. Darsey K.
    United States

    wow just got through reading about everyone. I’ve been on statins for a long time i started at 20mg of lipitor then after a year the doctor switched to 20 mg of lovastatin. I have had no problems with either of these doses.
    Now they say I’m high so he switched to 40 mg of lipitor, I had a lot of problems tingling in hands and feet felt like needles, stomach problems too, swelling in hands at night and early morning had trouble sleeping up and down all night joint and muscle pain so I reported it he switched 40 mg pravastatin. Didn’t sleep a wink tingling in arms and hands swelling, feel weak all the time.
    I am at high risk for heart attack so I am struggling at what to do. I have read some doctors over in UK have stated they have done research a lot on women and statins don’t do a thing for them to prolong life or lower risk of heart attacks so I don’t know who to believe any more but I know this drug is hurting me too.

    • Steve

      Was only on statins for a few weeks but after two weeks felt muscle pains and burning and soreness in my arm, still 8 months later still the same and I work in the civil engineering trade, heavy lifting work, not happy!

  13. Diana
    United States

    I was in excellent health until I started a statin about four years ago for elevated cholesterol levels. While on the statin I suffered from severe muscle cramps, weakness and elevated CK levels. My physician had told me that I was at high risk of a heart attack at any moment which I why I stated the statin. He changed me to another statin with similar results. I totally stopped all medications and have not recovered. My CKs go up and down and have recently been at 4000. I feel weak and sick and if I do any physical activity I feel like I was beaten up and take a week to recover. I used to dance, work out, walk the dog, everything with no problems and was in robust physical health. The statins ruined my life. After four years I am experiencing no recovery.

  14. Christina
    San Diego

    I had a nasty interaction with mevacor in 2003. I ached horribly,and when we finally got a muscle enzyme lab back it was way over a safety zone, and my doctor told me to stop it immediately. We left on a lovely trip to Eastern Europe, and my husband remembers how much time it took me to recover (thank god!) from the statin. I had genetically high cholesterol with my hdl being very high, sometimes over 100.

    A few years later my doctor wanted to try a small small dose of smivastatin. By that time I had nerve damage in my left leg and while racing though the Miami airport I got horrific cramp in my leg. We flew to our small boat for the amazon cruise so there was not much walking. BUT. as soon as we returned to Lima, I had heel-drop back and could not make it a half of a block.

    The neurologist called it the perfect storm. In 2012 I had a spinal fusion in my lumbar area and recovered very well. Then pain slowly creeped back, an I have been fighting that ever since although I thought I was doing fairly well. Then in July 5, 2014, while visiting my brother in Tuscon, Ariz. for his retirement from the head of the radiology dept. from the U of A Med CEnter, I awoke at 12:30 with violent burning pain and went off to the ER/trauma center where eventually my brother’s cardiologist did a catheterization and employed one stent and gave me a great bill of health.

    He was not pushing diet etc. because of my prior history. However, when we got home, my new doctor talked me into small dose (10) of Lipitor. After exactly two months on it, I woke up with a very stiff neck and a fever and was sent off to ER and isolation for possible meningitis. After two miserable days with no one considering the statin, I am home with cellulitis (MRI) antibiotics and just as miserable as I stated.

    I am very very fearful that this isn’t going to get better, and now I am left without a mainstay of the heart recovery. I am frustrated and scared to say the least and don’t know where to turn. We have Kaiser HMO. I would like to know how to pay for a consult with Dr. Golomb because she can put these elements together rather than ram things down my throat. Obviously, statins don’t agree with me, but I need to get my cholesterol down, but diet doesn’t do it. I just manufacture more.

    • Linda

      I too have extremely high cholesterol levels and 3 months ago had a stent placement. I cannot take statins, tried gemfibrozil and it caused severe muscle pain. I am so scared as I now feel I have no options in improving my numbers. I have an autoimmune muscle disease so I am not really able to exercise. I try to eat healthy but it doesn’t seem to help. I feel like my docs are like “oh well, nothing else we can give you.” I am 55 years old, I work everyday but the fear and anxiety have definitely taken over my life.

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