Atorvastatin (INN) (IPA: ) is a member of the drug class known as statins, used for lowering cholesterol and thereby preventing cardiovascular disease. Atorvastatin inhibits a rate-determining enzyme located in hepatic tissue used in cholesterol synthesis, which lowers the amount of cholesterol produced. This also has the effect of lowering the total amount of LDL cholesterol.
With 2004 sales of US$10.9 billion, it is the best selling drug in the world.
Main article: Statin
As with other statins, atorvastatin is a competitive inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase. Unlike most others, however, it is a completely synthetic compound. HMG-CoA reductase catalyzes the reduction of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A to mevalonate, which is the rate-limiting step in hepatic cholesterol synthesis. Inhibition of the enzyme decreases de novo cholesterol synthesis, increasing expression of low-density lipoprotein receptors (LDL receptors) on hepatocytes. This increases the LDL uptake by the hepatocytes, decreasing the amount of LDL in the blood.
Atorvastatin is indicated as an adjunct to diet for the treatment of dyslipidaemia, specifically hypercholesterolaemia. It has also been used in the treatment of mixed hyperlipidaemia. (Rossi, 2006)
Atorvastatin calcium tablets are currently marketed by Pfizer under the trade name Lipitor, in tablets (10, 20, 40 or 80 mg) for oral administration. Tablets are white, elliptical, and film coated. In some countries it may also be known as: Sortis, Torvast, Totalip, or Xarator.
Common adverse drug reactions (ADRs) associated with atorvastatin therapy include: myalgia, mild transient gastrointestinal symptoms, elevated hepatic transaminase concentrations, headache, insomnia, and/or dizziness. (Rossi, 2006)
Myopathy and rhabdomyolysis are rare, but serious, dose-related ADRs associated with statin therapy. Risk is increased in patients with renal impairment, serious concurrent illness; and/or concomitant use of drugs which inhibit CYP3A4. (Rossi, 2006)
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