What side effects are possible with this medication?
A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. It can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent, but does not occur in everyone. The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. If you develop any of these side effects (or any other side effects not listed here) or they change in intensity, speak to your doctor or pharmacist for advice on managing them and on the risks and benefits of the medication.
- abdominal pain
- back pain
- changes to blood sugar control (if you have diabetes)
- fast heartbeat
- flu-like symptoms
- flushing (tingling, warmth, and redness to skin on face, neck, and upper back)
- muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness
- nausea or vomiting
- shortness of breath
- stomach upset
to learn about serious side effects that can potentially occur with any medication. These examples are provided for information purposes only and are not meant to be exhaustive. Always consult your doctor for sound medical advice specific to your particular medication and treatment.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone at 1-800-332-1088.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin taking a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should take this medication.
Alcohol use: If you consume more alcohol than the daily suggested amounts, you should discuss with your doctor whether any special monitoring is needed.
Blood sugar: If you have diabetes you may experience small increases in your blood sugars while taking this medication. Your doctor may need to adjust the medications you take to control your blood sugar. You should continue to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly while taking this medication.
Flushing: You may develop a warm, itchy feeling on your skin (face, neck, back, and chest) after starting lovastatin - niacin. This is caused by niacin. Flushing may last for several hours after taking this medication and will usually go away after several weeks of taking the medication. Taking the medication at bedtime will help you deal with flushing by making it more likely to happen while you are asleep.
If you are woken up by flushing, get up slowly to minimize dizziness or fainting. Avoid alcohol or hot drinks around the time you take niacin extended release, as these may increase flushing. Taking a dose of aspirin about 30 minutes before taking lovastatin - niacin may also help with the flushing, but first check with your doctor to see if this is appropriate for you.
Grapefruit juice: Drinking grapefruit juice has been found to increase blood levels of lovastatin - niacin. Let your doctor know if you drink this beverage regularly.
Kidney problems: If you have decreased kidney function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Liver effects: This medication may cause increases in laboratory test results called liver function tests. These increases may indicate harmful effects to the liver. When the medication is stopped, the laboratory tests usually slowly return to normal.
Your doctor will likely monitor your liver function regularly while you are taking this medication. If you have a history of liver disease you should be closely monitored by your doctors while taking this medication. People with an active liver disease or unexplained liver function tests should not take lovastatin - niacin.
Medical conditions and surgery: If you have gout, ulcers, or heart problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. This medication should be stopped a few days before elective surgery and during acute medical conditions or surgery.
Muscle effects: In rare cases, serious muscle damage has been associated with the use of lovastatin, especially at higher doses. Report any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, weakness or cramps; or any brown or discolored urine to your doctor immediately, particularly if you are also experiencing malaise (a general feeling of being unwell) or fever. The risk of experiencing these muscle effects is increased if you have kidney problems or are taking certain medications (e.g., gemfibrozil, danazol, cyclosporine).
Previous niacin use: If you were taking another form of niacin (e.g., immediate release niacin), your doctor will change you to extended release niacin before starting this medication. When you are stabilized on a specific dose of extended release niacin and lovastatin taken separately, your doctor will be able to determine what your appropriate dose of this combination medication is. Do not substitute another form of niacin without consulting with your doctor first. Doing so can cause severe liver disorders.
Pregnancy: The medication should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, stop taking the medication and contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: This medication should not be used if you are breast-feeding. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between lovastatin - niacin and any of the following:
- bile acid sequestrants (e.g., cholestyramine, colestipol)
- fibrates (e.g., fenofibrate, gemfibrozil)
- grapefruit juice (more than 1 quart daily)
- HIV protease inhibitors (e.g., indinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir)
- niacin (more than 1 gram daily)
- vitamin supplements containing niacin or nicotinamide
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.