Consumer Medicine Information
What is in this leaflet
This leaflet answers some common questions about LIPEX. It does not contain all the available information.
It does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist.
All medicines have risks and benefits. Your doctor has weighed the risks of you taking LIPEX against the benefits they expect it will have for you.
If you have any concerns about taking this medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Keep this leaflet with the medicine. You may need to read it again.
What LIPEX is used for
LIPEX helps to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
LIPEX is used in people who have coronary heart disease (CHD) or who are at high risk of CHD (for example, if they have diabetes, a history of stroke, or other blood vessel disease).
LIPEX may be used in these people, regardless of their cholesterol level to:
help prolong life by reducing the risk of a heart attack
reduce the risk of stroke
reduce the need for surgery to increase blood flow to the heart
reduce the need for hospitalisation due to angina.
Everyone has cholesterol and triglycerides in their blood. They are types of blood fat needed by the body for many things, including building cell walls, making bile acids (which help to digest food) and certain hormones. However, too much cholesterol can be a problem.
Your body makes cholesterol, but it also comes from food.
Normally the body balances the cholesterol it makes with the cholesterol it gets from food. This means if more cholesterol comes from food, less is made by the body. However, if you eat a diet high in fat, your body may not keep this balance and your cholesterol levels rise.
High cholesterol is more likely to occur with certain diseases or if you have a family history of high cholesterol.
When you have high levels of cholesterol, it may 'stick' to the inside of your blood vessels instead of being carried to the parts of the body where it is needed. Over time, this can form hard areas, called plaque, on the walls of blood vessels, making it more difficult for the blood to flow. This blocking of your blood vessels can lead to coronary heart disease (such as heart attack and angina), and stroke.
In people with CHD, LIPEX may slow down the hardening of blood vessels and reduce the risk of developing new plaques.
There are different types of cholesterol, called LDL and HDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is the 'bad' cholesterol that can block your blood vessels. HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is the 'good' cholesterol that is thought to remove the bad cholesterol from the blood vessels.
Triglycerides are an energy source for the body. However, as with cholesterol, too much triglycerides can be a problem.
How LIPEX works
LIPEX belongs to a group of medicines known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. It works by reducing the amount of cholesterol made by the liver. In terms of good and bad cholesterol, LIPEX reduces the bad cholesterol and raises the good cholesterol.
LIPEX does not reduce the cholesterol and triglycerides that come from fat in food.
Therefore, when you are taking LIPEX, you also need to follow a low fat diet and other measures, such as exercise and weight control.
In most people, there are no symptoms of high cholesterol or triglycerides. Your doctor can measure your cholesterol and triglycerides with a simple blood test.
Safety and effectiveness have been studied in 10-17 year old boys and in girls, who had started their menstrual period at least one year before (see How to take LIPEX). LIPEX has not been studied in children under the age of 10 years. For more information, talk to your doctor.
Your doctor may have prescribed LIPEX for another reason. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about why LIPEX has been prescribed for you.
LIPEX is not addictive.
Before you take LIPEX
When you must not take it
Do not take LIPEX if:
you have an allergy to LIPEX or other brands of simvastatin, or to any of the ingredients listed at the end of this leaflet
Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include skin rash, itchiness, shortness of breath, swelling of the tongue or face, or painful joints.
you are pregnant or breast-feeding
Your baby may absorb this medicine in the womb or from breast milk and therefore there is a possibility of harm to the baby.
you have liver disease
you have had muscle pain, tenderness or weakness from other medicines used to treat high cholesterol or triglycerides
the packaging is torn or shows signs of tampering
the expiry date on the pack has passed.
If you take this medicine after the expiry date has passed, it may not work.
If you are not sure whether you should start taking LIPEX, talk to your doctor.
Before you start to take it
Tell your doctor if:
1. you intend to become pregnant or plan to breast feed
LIPEX should not be used during pregnancy or while breast-feeding.
2. you have ever had liver disease
Your doctor will do a blood test to make sure you have no problems with your liver.
3. you have kidney disease or any other medical problems
4. you drink alcohol regularly
5. you have any allergies to any other medicines or any other substances, such as foods, preservatives or dyes.
If you have not told your doctor about any of the above, tell them before you take any LIPEX.
Taking other medicines
Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, including medicines that you buy without a prescription from your pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop. Some medicines should not be taken with LIPEX as they may increase the risk of muscle side effects with LIPEX. These include:
nefazodone, used to treat depression
protease inhibitors, used to treat HIV infection, including indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir
erythromycin, clarithromycin and fusidic acid antibiotics used to treat infections
ketoconazole and itraconazole, used to treat certain fungal infections
If you are taking any of the above, your doctor may suggest stopping LIPEX temporarily or permanently.
Some medicines and LIPEX may interfere with each other. Because taking LIPEX with any of the following drugs can increase the risk of muscle problems (see Side Effects), it is particularly important to tell your doctor if you are taking:
other medicines to lower cholesterol levels, for example, fibric acid derivatives (such as gemfibrozil) or large doses (1 g/day or more) of nicotinic acid (also known as niacin)
warfarin, used to prevent blood clots
cyclosporin, used to suppress the immune system
verapamil, used to treat high blood pressure and angina
diltiazem, used to treat angina
amiodarone, used to treat irregular heart beat
It is also important to tell your doctor if you are taking anticoagulants (drugs that prevent blood clots, such as warfarin) or fenofibrate, another fibric acid derivative.
These medicines may be affected by LIPEX, may affect how well it works, or may increase the risk of side effects with LIPEX. You may need different amounts of your medicine, or you may need to take different medicines.
Your doctor or pharmacist has more information on medicines to be careful with or avoid while taking LIPEX.
How to take LIPEX
How much to take
Take LIPEX only when prescribed by your doctor. Your doctor will tell you how many tablets you need to take each day. This depends on your cholesterol and triglyceride levels and other factors, such as kidney disease.
For adults, the recommended starting dose is 10mg or 20 mg per day, taken in the evening, which may need to be increased up to 80 mg daily to have the best effect.
People with CHD or risk factors for CHD are usually started on 40 mg per day, taken in the evening.
For children (10-17 years old), the recommended usual starting dose is 10 mg a day in the evening. The maximum recommended dose is 40 mg a day.
Swallow LIPEX with a glass of water.
Follow all directions given to you by your doctor and pharmacist carefully. They may differ from the information contained in this leaflet.
If you do not understand the instructions, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.
When to take it
Take LIPEX once a day in the evening. The liver produces its greatest amount of cholesterol when the body is at rest and when there is no dietary intake. For most people this is at night when asleep. Therefore, LIPEX is more effective when taken in the evening. A good time would be after your evening meal. However, it does not matter whether you take it before or after food.
Take LIPEX at about the same time each evening. Taking your tablet(s) at the same time each evening will have the best effect. It will also help you remember when to take the tablets.
How long to take it
LIPEX helps lower your cholesterol. It does not cure your condition. Therefore, you must continue to take it as directed by your doctor if you expect to lower your cholesterol and keep it down. You may have to take cholesterol-lowering medicine for the rest of your life. If you stop taking LIPEX, your cholesterol levels may rise again.
If you forget to take it
If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the dose you missed and take your next dose when you are meant to. Otherwise, take it as soon as you remember, and then go back to taking your tablet(s) as you would normally.
If you are not sure whether to skip the dose, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Do not take a double dose to make up for the dose that you missed.
If you have trouble remembering to take your tablets, ask your pharmacist for some hints.
If you take too much (overdose)
Immediately telephone your doctor or Poisons Information Centre (telephone 13 11 26), or go to accident and emergency at your nearest hospital, if you think that you or anyone else may have taken too much LIPEX. Do this even if there are no signs of discomfort or poisoning.
While you are using LIPEX
Things you must do
If you become pregnant while you are taking LIPEX, stop taking it and contact your doctor immediately.
Have your blood fats checked when your doctor says, to make sure LIPEX is working.
If you are about to be started on any new medicine tell your doctor and pharmacist that you are taking LIPEX.
If you are about to have elective surgery, tell your doctor that you are taking LIPEX. Your doctor may suggest stopping the tablets a few days before surgery.
Things you must not do
Do not give LIPEX to anyone else, even if they have the same condition as you.
Things to be careful of
Avoid drinking large quantities of alcohol. Drinking large quantities of alcohol may increase your chance of LIPEX causing liver problems.
Avoid drinking large quantities of grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice contains one or more components that alter the metabolism of some medicines, including LIPEX. Therefore, drinking very large quantities (over 1 litre) of grapefruit juice each day increases your chance of LIPEX causing side effects. These include aching muscles, muscle tenderness or weakness, not caused by exercise. However, one glass (250mL) of grapefruit juice each day has not been shown to have any significant effect.
Be careful driving or operating machinery until you know how LIPEX affects you.
LIPEX generally does not cause any problems with your ability to drive a car or operate machinery. However, as with many other medicines, LIPEX may cause dizziness in some people. Make sure you know how you react to LIPEX before you drive a car or operate machinery.
Changes to lifestyle that may help reduce the chance of coronary heart disease
Lowering high cholesterol can help reduce your chances of having coronary heart disease (CHD). However, your chances of having CHD may be increased by several other factors including high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, excess weight, family history of CHD, being a male and being a woman who has reached menopause.
Some self help measures suggested below may help your condition and help reduce your chances of having CHD. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or dietician about these measures and for more information.
continue the low fat diet recommended by your doctor, dietician or pharmacist.
your doctor may advise you to lose weight if you are overweight.
make exercise a part of your routine - walking is good. Ask your doctor for advice before starting exercise.
your doctor may advise you to stop smoking or at least cut down.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible if you do not feel well while you are taking LIPEX. LIPEX helps most people with high cholesterol, but it may have unwanted side effects in a few people. All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not. You may need medical treatment if you get some of the side effects.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist to answer any questions you may have.
Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following and they worry you:
constipation, diarrhoea, wind
stomach upset or pain, feeling sick (nausea)
These are the more common side effects of LIPEX. For the most part these have been mild and short-lived.
Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following:
aching muscles, muscle tenderness or weakness, not caused by exercise
brown/black coloured urine
On rare occasions, muscle problems can be serious, including muscle breakdown resulting in kidney damage.
The risk of muscle problems is greater for patients taking higher doses of LIPEX. The risk of muscle problems is greater for patients with abnormal kidney function.
Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following:
tingling in the hands or feet
yellowing of the skin and/or eyes, also called jaundice
signs of anaemia, such as tiredness, being short of breath, and looking pale
fever, generally feeling unwell
skin rash, itchiness
pinkish, itchy swellings on the skin, also called hives or nettlerash
painful, swollen joints
bruising more easily than normal
larger breasts than normal in men
These may be serious side effects of LIPEX. Some of these may be symptoms of an allergic reaction to LIPEX. You may need urgent medical attention. Serious side effects are rare.
Tell your doctor immediately or go to accident and emergency at your nearest hospital if you notice any of the following:
swelling of the face, lips, mouth, throat or tongue which may cause difficulty in swallowing or breathing
shortness of breath
These are serious side effects. If you have them, you may have had a serious allergic reaction to LIPEX. You may need urgent medical attention or hospitalisation. Serious side effects are rare.
Also, tell your doctor if you notice:
These are other side effects that have been reported with LIPEX.
Liver problems can also occur and may be serious. Your doctor will do blood tests to check your liver.
Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. Tell your doctor if you notice any other effects.
Do not be alarmed by this list of possible side effects. You may not experience any of them.
After using LIPEX
Keep your tablets in the blister pack until it is time to take them. If you take the tablets out of the blister pack they may not keep well.
Keep LIPEX in a cool dry place where the temperature stays below 30 °C. Do not store it or any other medicine in the bathroom or near a sink.
Do not leave it in the car or on window sills. Heat and dampness can destroy some medicines.
Keep it where children cannot reach it. A locked cupboard at least one-and-a-half metres above the ground is a good place to store medicines.
If your doctor tells you to stop taking LIPEX or the tablets have passed their expiry date, ask your pharmacist what to do with any that are left over.
What it looks like
LIPEX comes in four types of tablets:
LIPEX 10 mg - peach coloured, oval-shaped tablet with "MSD 735" marked on one side
LIPEX 20 mg - tan coloured, oval-shaped tablet with "MSD 740" marked on one side
LIPEX 40 mg - brick-red coloured, oval-shaped tablet with "MSD 749" marked on one side
LIPEX 80 mg - brick-red coloured, capsule-shaped tablet with "543" marked on one side and "80" on the other.
A box of LIPEX contains 30 tablets.
LIPEX 10 mg - 10 mg simvastatin per tablet
LIPEX 20 mg - 20 mg simvastatin per tablet
LIPEX 40 mg - 40 mg simvastatin per tablet
LIPEX 80 mg - 80 mg simvastatin per tablet
citric acid monohydrate
starch - pregelatinised maize
iron oxide yellow CI77492 (5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg and 80 mg tablets)
iron oxide red CI77491 (10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg and 80 mg tablets)
LIPEX does not contain gluten, sucrose, tartrazine or any other azo dyes. Manufacturer/Supplier
LIPEX is supplied in Australia by:
Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia) Pty Limited
54-68 Ferndell Street
SOUTH GRANVILLE NSW 2142
This leaflet was prepared in July 2008.
Australian Register Numbers:
LIPEX 10 mg - AUST R 11616
LIPEX 20 mg - AUST R 11617
LIPEX 40 mg - AUST R 59273LIPEX 80 mg - AUST R 65524
® Registered Trademark of Merck & Co., Inc. Whitehouse Station, N.J., U.S.A.