Everyone has heard of Atorvastatin at one point or another on television, in magazine articles and even in business websites. You might not know the name Atorvastatin but you will know its marketed name: Lipitor. I see all the light bulbs went on. Lipitor is the biggest selling prescription drug in the world with total sales of about $15 billion dollars and $7.2 Billion of that in theUSalone (based on 2010). Pfizer owns the right to this drug but the big shock is that it just recently went off patent protection (November 2011). This means that generic drug manufacturers will finally have access to make Atorvastatin.
What is Atorvastatin?
Atorvastatin is a statin drug (calcium salt) used for lowering blood cholesterol and preventing cardiovascular disease. Atorvastatin works by lowering a liver enzyme that controls cholesterol production in your body. Atorvastatin also controls plaque build up, which can clog arteries and lead to strokes or heart attacks. Unfortunately, our lifestyle of fast food and sitting around the office computer has helped pave the way for the development of these statin drugs.
What are the Side Effects?
Atorvastatin has side effects like all other drugs. Most are mild side effects such as headache, dizziness, abdominal pain, chest pain, rashes, urinary tract infection, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and back pain. The worst side effect documented is myopathy which is a muscle disease. Myopathy is when the muscle fibers don’t function as they are supposed to and result in muscle weakness, spasms or muscle cramps. There have also been cases of memory loss by patients but those cases were extremely rare.
If you are pregnant, it is one of the worst drugs to take since it is mostly likely to affect development of your child. Even when breast feeding, it is likely to be secreted in human milk. Avoid Atorvastatin at all costs if you are pregnant or nursing. I sound like a doctor now.
Is Atorvastatin That Good?
Atorvastatin is a well developed synthetic drug. It is not perfect but it does have an advantage over other statin drugs. Atorvastatin is owned by Pfizer which has a strong salesforce and a good marketing division. Pfizer excels at sales and marketing with doctors over prescription habits. That is why it is the number one prescribed medicine. Now that a generic is available, it is obvious that Pfizer won’t make $15 billion. But all those earnings helped develop the next generation of drugs.