Drug vs. Drug

Lovastatin vs Atorvastatin: Main Differences and Similarities

SingleCare Logo for author page By | January 30, 2019

Lovastatin and atorvastatin are generic “statin” medications that treat high cholesterol. Both medications are classified as HMG-coA reductase inhibitors. They essentially work by indirectly blocking the production of cholesterol in the blood. By lowering LDL cholesterol, they can help prevent the risk of heart attacks and strokes in those with heart disease. Despite their similarities, they also have some differences that will be discussed.

Lovastatin

Lovastatin is the generic name for Mevacor and Altoprev. It is prescribed to treat coronary arteriosclerosis and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). Those with coronary heart disease can also be treated with lovastatin to lower total cholesterol and LDL levels.

Lovastatin is available as a 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg oral tablet. Altoprev is the brand name extended-release version that is available as a 20 mg, 40 mg, or 60 mg oral tablet. Lovastatin is recommended to be taken with an evening meal. This is due to the increased absorption of lovastatin with food intake. Those with kidney problems may need to take lower doses to prevent the risk of side effects.

Atorvastatin

Atorvastatin is the generic name for Lipitor. It is used to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in individuals with high blood levels. It is also prescribed to decrease the risk of death from heart attack and stroke.

Atorvastatin is administered as an oral tablet in strengths of 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, or 80 mg. Unlike lovastatin, it can be taken at any time of day. This is due to its longer half-life. However, it is not recommended to be taken with food. Atorvastatin is also not recommended in those with acute liver disease.

Lovastatin vs Atorvastatin Side by Side Comparison

Lovastatin and atorvastatin are two statin medications with many similarities. While they are similar in several ways, they also have important differences. Both medications can be further reviewed below.

Lovastatin Atorvastatin
Prescribed For
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Triglycerides
  • Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and related events
  • Coronary arteriosclerosis
  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Triglycerides
  • Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and related events
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia
  • Atherosclerosis
Drug Classification
  • HMG CoA reductase inhibitors
  • HMG CoA reductase inhibitors
Manufacturer
  • Generic
  • Generic
Common Side Effects
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Nasopharyngitis
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain in extremity
Is there a generic?
Is it covered by insurance?
  • Varies according to your provider
  • Varies according to your provider
Dosage Forms
  • Oral tablet
  • Oral tablet
Average Cash Price
  • $30 (per 30 tablets)
  • $519 (per 30 tablets)
SingleCare Discount Price
Drug Interactions
  • CYP3A4 inhibitors (ketoconazole, itraconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, erythromycin, clarithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors, telaprevir, nefazodone, boceprevir, etc.)
  • Cyclosporine
  • Protease inhibitors (tipranavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, fosamprenavir, nelfinavir)
  • Amiodarone
  • Colchicine
  • Ranolazine
  • Fenofibrate
  • Gemfibrozil
  • Niacin
  • Diltiazem
  • Danazol
  • Dronedarone
  • Verapamil
  • Grapefruit juice
  • CYP3A4 inhibitors (ketoconazole, itraconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole, erythromycin, clarithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors, telaprevir, nefazodone, boceprevir, etc.)
  • Cyclosporine
  • Protease inhibitors (tipranavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, fosamprenavir, nelfinavir)
  • Fenofibrate
  • Gemfibrozil
  • Niacin
  • Digoxin
  • Diltiazem
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Rifampin
  • Grapefruit juice
Can I use while planning pregnancy, pregnant, or breastfeeding?
  • Lovastatin is in Pregnancy Category X and may cause fetal harm when administered to pregnant women. Lovastatin is not recommended in pregnant women.
  • Atorvastatin is in Pregnancy Category X and may cause fetal harm when administered to pregnant women. Atorvastatin is not recommended in pregnant women.

Summary

Lovastatin and atorvastatin are effective statin medications for lowering cholesterol. They are both used to prevent heart complications such as heart attack and stroke for certain patients. While both medications work in similar ways, they also have differences in how they are used.

In terms of potency, studies have shown that atorvastatin is more potent than lovastatin. Those taking atorvastatin have been found to experience greater decreases in LDL cholesterol. However, both medications are effective at decreasing the risk of events associated with heart disease.

Lovastatin is usually recommended to be taken at night with a meal due its shorter half-life. On the other hand, atorvastatin can be taken in the morning or at night.

Both medications are metabolized by the CYP3A4 enzyme in the liver. For this reason, they share similar side effects and drug interactions. For example, they should not be used with strong inhibitors of this enzyme which can increase the risk of side effects.

The use of lovastatin or atorvastatin should be discussed with your doctor. Both medications should not be used during pregnancy because of their proven risk of fetal harm. Because of their risk of side effects and many drug interactions, it is important to carefully review both statin medications.