Lipitor (Atorvastatin) Drug Information

  • Why is this medication prescribed?

    Lipitor (atorvastatin) is used along with diet, exercise, and weight-loss to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke and to decrease the chance that heart surgery will be needed in people who have heart disease or who are at risk of developing heart disease. Lipitor (atorvastatin) is also used to decrease the amount of cholesterol (a fat-like substance) and other fatty substances in the blood. This will decrease the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other heart diseases because when there are high levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood, these substances may build up along the walls of the blood vessels and decrease or block blood flow to the heart. Lipitor (atorvastatin) is in a class of medications called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins). It works by slowing the production of cholesterol in the body.

  • How should this medicine be used?

    Lipitor (atorvastatin) comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. Take Lipitor (atorvastatin) at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take Lipitor (atorvastatin) exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

    Your doctor may start you on a low dose of Lipitor (atorvastatin) and gradually increase your dose, not more than once every 2-4 week

    Continue to take Lipitor (atorvastatin) even if you feel well. Do not stop taking Lipitor (atorvastatin) without talking to your doctor.

  • Other uses for this medicine

    This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

  • What special precautions should I follow?

    Before taking Lipitor (atorvastatin):

    • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to Lipitor (atorvastatin) or any other medications.
    • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: antifungal medications such as itraconazole (Sporanox) and ketoconazole (Nizoral); cimetidine (Tagamet); clarithromycin (Biaxin); digoxin (Lanoxin); diltiazem (Cardizem, Cartia, Taztia, Tiazac); erythromycin (E.E.S., E-Mycin, Erythrocin); efavirenz (Sustiva, in Atripla); oral contraceptives (birth control pills); other cholesterol-lowering medications such as fenofibrate (Tricor), gemfibrozil (Lopid), and niacin (nicotinic acid, Niacor, Niaspan); certain medications used in combination for HIV such as ritonavir and lopinavir (Kaletra) and ritonavir (Norvir) taken with saquinavir (Invirase); medications that suppress the immune system such as cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane); and spironolactone (Aldactone). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
    • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had liver disease. Your doctor will probably tell you not to take Lipitor (atorvastatin).
    • tell your doctor if you consume more than 2 alcoholic beverages daily and if you have or have ever had muscle aches or weakness; diabetes; or thyroid or kidney disease.
    • tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you become pregnant while taking Lipitor (atorvastatin), stop taking Lipitor (atorvastatin) and call your doctor immediately. Lipitor (atorvastatin) may harm the fetus.
    • do not breast-feed while you are taking this medication.
    • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking Lipitor (atorvastatin).
    • ask your doctor about the safe use of alcoholic beverages while you are taking Lipitor (atorvastatin). Alcohol can increase the risk of serious side effects.
  • What special dietary instructions should I follow?

    Eat a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet, which includes cottage cheese, fat-free milk, fish, vegetables, poultry, and egg whites. Use monounsaturated oils such as olive, peanut, and canola oils or polyunsaturated oils such as corn, safflower, soy, sunflower, cottonseed, and soybean oils. Avoid foods with excess fat in them such as meat (especially liver and fatty meat), egg yolks, whole milk, cream, butter, shortening, pastries, cakes, cookies, gravy, peanut butter, chocolate, olives, potato chips, coconut, cheese (other than cottage cheese), coconut oil, palm oil, and fried foods.

    Avoid drinking large amounts (more than about 1 quart, 1 liter every day) of grapefruit juice while taking Lipitor (atorvastatin).

  • What should I do if I forget a dose?

    Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is less than 12 hours until your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

  • What side effects can this medication cause?

    Lipitor (atorvastatin) may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

    • diarrhea
    • constipation
    • gas
    • headache
    • joint pain

    Some side effects can be serious. The following symptoms are uncommon, but if you experience any of them, call your doctor immediately:

    • muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness
    • lack of energy
    • fever
    • chest pain
    • nausea
    • extreme tiredness
    • unusual bleeding or bruising
    • loss of appetite
    • pain in the upper right part of the stomach
    • flu-like symptoms
    • yellowing of the skin or eyes
    • rash
    • hives
    • itching
    • difficulty breathing or swallowing
    • swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
    • hoarseness

    Lipitor (atorvastatin) may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

    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 [at] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].

  • What storage conditions are needed for this medicine?

    Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.

  • In case of emergency/overdose

    In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

  • What other information should I know?

    Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests before and during treatment to check your body's response to Lipitor (atorvastatin).

    Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking Lipitor (atorvastatin).

    Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

    It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

  • Brand Names

    • Lipitor®