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All about: Pravachol

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Generic Name: pravastatin sodium
Dosage Form: Tablets

Pravachol Description

Pravachol® (pravastatin sodium) is one of a class of lipid-lowering compounds, the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, which reduce cholesterol biosynthesis. These agents are competitive inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, the enzyme catalyzing the early rate-limiting step in cholesterol biosynthesis, conversion of HMG-CoA to mevalonate.

Pravastatin sodium is designated chemically as 1-Naphthalene-heptanoic acid, 1,2,6,7,8,8a-hexahydro-β,δ,6-trihydroxy-2-methyl-8-(2-methyl-1-oxobutoxy)-, monosodium salt, [1S-[1α(βS*,δS*),2α,6α,8β(R*),8aα]]-. Structural formula:

Pravastatin sodium is an odorless, white to off-white, fine or crystalline powder. It is a relatively polar hydrophilic compound with a partition coefficient (octanol/water) of 0.59 at a pH of 7.0. It is soluble in methanol and water (>300 mg/mL), slightly soluble in isopropanol, and practically insoluble in acetone, acetonitrile, chloroform, and ether.

Pravachol is available for oral administration as 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg tablets. Inactive ingredients include: croscarmellose sodium, lactose, magnesium oxide, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, and povidone. The 10 mg tablet also contains Red Ferric Oxide, the 20 mg and 80 mg tablets also contain Yellow Ferric Oxide, and the 40 mg tablet also contains Green Lake Blend (mixture of D&C Yellow No. 10-Aluminum Lake and FD&C Blue No. 1-Aluminum Lake).

Pravachol - Clinical Pharmacology

Cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream circulate as part of lipoprotein complexes. These complexes can be separated by density ultracentrifugation into high (HDL), intermediate (IDL), low (LDL), and very low (VLDL) density lipoprotein fractions. Triglycerides (TG) and cholesterol synthesized in the liver are incorporated into very low density lipoproteins (VLDLs) and released into the plasma for delivery to peripheral tissues. In a series of subsequent steps, VLDLs are transformed into intermediate density lipoproteins (IDLs), and cholesterol-rich low density lipoproteins (LDLs). High density lipoproteins (HDLs), containing apolipoprotein A, are hypothesized to participate in the reverse transport of cholesterol from tissues back to the liver.

Pravachol produces its lipid-lowering effect in two ways. First, as a consequence of its reversible inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase activity, it effects modest reductions in intracellular pools of cholesterol. This results in an increase in the number of LDL-receptors on cell surfaces and enhanced receptor-mediated catabolism and clearance of circulating LDL. Second, pravastatin inhibits LDL production by inhibiting hepatic synthesis of VLDL, the LDL precursor.

Clinical and pathologic studies have shown that elevated levels of total cholesterol (Total-C), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and apolipoprotein B (ApoB – a membrane transport complex for LDL) promote human atherosclerosis. Similarly, decreased levels of HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) and its transport complex, apolipoprotein A, are associated with the development of atherosclerosis. Epidemiologic investigations have established that cardiovascular morbidity and mortality vary directly with the level of Total-C and LDL-C and inversely with the level of HDL-C. Like LDL, cholesterol-enriched triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, including VLDL, IDL, and remnants, can also promote atherosclerosis. Elevated plasma TG are frequently found in a triad with low HDL-C levels and small LDL particles, as well as in association with non-lipid metabolic risk factors for coronary heart disease. As such, total plasma TG has not consistently been shown to be an independent risk factor for CHD. Furthermore, the independent effect of raising HDL or lowering TG on the risk of coronary and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality has not been determined. In both normal volunteers and patients with hypercholesterolemia, treatment with Pravachol reduced Total-C, LDL-C, and apolipoprotein B. Pravachol also reduced VLDL-C and TG and produced increases in HDL-C and apolipoprotein A. The effects of pravastatin on Lp (a), fibrinogen, and certain other independent biochemical risk markers for coronary heart disease are unknown. Although pravastatin is relatively more hydrophilic than other HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, the effect of relative hydrophilicity, if any, on either efficacy or safety has not been established.

In one primary (West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study - WOS)1 and two secondary (Long-term Intervention with Pravastatin in Ischemic Disease - LIPID2 and the Cholesterol and Recurrent Events - CARE3) prevention studies, Pravachol has been shown to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality across a wide range of cholesterol levels (see Clinical Studies).


Pravachol (pravastatin sodium) is administered orally in the active form. In clinical pharmacology studies in man, pravastatin is rapidly absorbed, with peak plasma levels of parent compound attained 1 to 1.5 hours following ingestion. Based on urinary recovery of radiolabeled drug, the average oral absorption of pravastatin is 34% and absolute bioavailability is 17%. While the presence of food in the gastrointestinal tract reduces systemic bioavailability, the lipid-lowering effects of the drug are similar whether taken with, or 1 hour prior to, meals.

Pravastatin undergoes extensive first-pass extraction in the liver (extraction ratio 0.66), which is its primary site of action, and the primary site of cholesterol synthesis and of LDL-C clearance. In vitro studies demonstrated that pravastatin is transported into hepatocytes with substantially less uptake into other cells. In view of pravastatin's apparently extensive first-pass hepatic metabolism, plasma levels may not necessarily correlate perfectly with lipid-lowering efficacy. Pravastatin plasma concentrations [including: area under the concentration-time curve (AUC), peak (Cmax), and steady-state minimum (Cmin)] are directly proportional to administered dose. Systemic bioavailability of pravastatin administered following a bedtime dose was decreased 60% compared to that following an AM dose. Despite this decrease in systemic bioavailability, the efficacy of pravastatin administered once daily in the evening, although not statistically significant, was marginally more effective than that after a morning dose. This finding of lower systemic bioavailability suggests greater hepatic extraction of the drug following the evening dose. Steady-state AUCs, Cmax and Cmin plasma concentrations showed no evidence of pravastatin accumulation following once or twice daily administration of Pravachol tablets. Approximately 50% of the circulating drug is bound to plasma proteins. Following single dose administration of 14C-pravastatin, the elimination half-life (t½) for total radioactivity (pravastatin plus metabolites) in humans is 77 hours.

Pravastatin, like other HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, has variable bioavailability. The coefficient of variation (CV), based on between-subject variability, was 50% to 60% for AUC. Pravastatin 20 mg was administered under fasting conditions in adults. The geometric means of Cmax and AUC ranged from 23.3 to 26.3 ng/mL and from 54.7 to 62.2 ng*hr/mL, respectively.

Approximately 20% of a radiolabeled oral dose is excreted in urine and 70% in the feces. After intravenous administration of radiolabeled pravastatin to normal volunteers, approximately 47% of total body clearance was via renal excretion and 53% by non-renal routes (i.e., biliary excretion and biotransformation). Since there are dual routes of elimination, the potential exists both for compensatory excretion by the alternate route as well as for accumulation of drug and/or metabolites in patients with renal or hepatic insufficiency.

In a study comparing the kinetics of pravastatin in patients with biopsy confirmed cirrhosis (N=7) and normal subjects (N=7), the mean AUC varied 18-fold in cirrhotic patients and 5-fold in healthy subjects. Similarly, the peak pravastatin values varied 47-fold for cirrhotic patients compared to 6-fold for healthy subjects.

Biotransformation pathways elucidated for pravastatin include: (a) isomerization to 6-epi pravastatin and the 3α-hydroxyisomer of pravastatin (SQ 31,906), (b) enzymatic ring hydroxylation to SQ 31,945, (c) ω-1 oxidation of the ester side chain, (d) β-oxidation of the carboxy side chain, (e) ring oxidation followed by aromatization, (f) oxidation of a hydroxyl group to a keto group, and (g) conjugation. The major degradation product is the 3α-hydroxy isomeric metabolite, which has one-tenth to one-fortieth the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitory activity of the parent compound.

In a single oral dose study using pravastatin 20 mg, the mean AUC for pravastatin was approximately 27% greater and the mean cumulative urinary excretion (CUE) approximately 19% lower in elderly men (65 to 75 years old) compared with younger men (19 to 31 years old). In a similar study conducted in women, the mean AUC for pravastatin was approximately 46% higher and the mean CUE approximately 18% lower in elderly women (65 to 78 years old) compared with younger women (18 to 38 years old). In both studies, Cmax, Tmax and t½ values were similar in older and younger subjects.

After 2 weeks of once-daily 20 mg oral pravastatin administration, the geometric means of AUC were 80.7 (CV 44%) and 44.8 (CV 89%) ng*hr/mL for children (8-11 years, N=14) and adolescents (12-16 years, N=10), respectively. The corresponding values for Cmax were 42.4 (CV 54%) and 18.6 ng/mL (CV 100%) for children and adolescents, respectively. No conclusion can be made based on these findings due to the small number of samples and large variability.

Clinical Studies

Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease

In the Pravastatin Primary Prevention Study (West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study – WOS)1, the effect of Pravachol on fatal and nonfatal coronary heart disease (CHD) was assessed in 6595 men 45–64 years of age, without a previous myocardial infarction (MI), and with LDL-C levels between 156–254 mg/dL (4–6.7 mmol/L). In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients were treated with standard care, including dietary advice, and either Pravachol 40 mg daily (N=3302) or placebo (N=3293) and followed for a median duration of 4.8 years. Median (25th, 75th percentile) percent changes from baseline after 6 months of pravastatin treatment in Total-C, LDL-C, TG, and HDL-C were -20.3 (-26.9, -11.7), -27.7 (-36.0, -16.9), -9.1 (-27.6, 12.5), and 6.7 (-2.1, 15.6), respectively.

Pravachol significantly reduced the rate of first coronary events (either coronary heart disease [CHD] death or nonfatal MI) by 31% [248 events in the placebo group (CHD death=44, nonfatal MI=204) vs 174 events in the Pravachol group (CHD death=31, nonfatal MI=143), p=0.0001 (see figure below)]. The risk reduction with Pravachol was similar and significant throughout the entire range of baseline LDL cholesterol levels. This reduction was also similar and significant across the age range studied with a 40% risk reduction for patients younger than 55 years and a 27% risk reduction for patients 55 years and older. The Pravastatin Primary Prevention Study included only men, and therefore it is not clear to what extent these data can be extrapolated to a similar population of female patients.

Pravachol also significantly decreased the risk for undergoing myocardial revascularization procedures (coronary artery bypass graft [CABG] surgery or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty [PTCA]) by 37% (80 vs 51 patients, p=0.009) and coronary angiography by 31% (128 vs 90, p=0.007). Cardiovascular deaths were decreased by 32% (73 vs 50, p=0.03) and there was no increase in death from non-cardiovascular causes.

Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Events

In the Long-term Intervention with Pravastatin in Ischemic Disease (LIPID)2 study, the effect of Pravachol, 40 mg daily, was assessed in 9014 patients (7498 men; 1516 women; 3514 elderly patients [age ≥65 years]; 782 diabetic patients) who had experienced either an MI (5754 patients) or had been hospitalized for unstable angina pectoris (3260 patients) in the preceding 3-36 months. Patients in this multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study participated for an average of 5.6 years (median of 5.9 years) and at randomization had total cholesterol between 114 and 563 mg/dL (mean 219 mg/dL), LDL-C between 46 and 274 mg/dL (mean 150 mg/dL), triglycerides between 35 and 2710 mg/dL (mean 160 mg/dL), and HDL-C between 1 and 103 mg/dL (mean 37 mg/dL). At baseline, 82% of patients were receiving aspirin and 76% were receiving antihypertensive medication. Treatment with Pravachol significantly reduced the risk for total mortality by reducing coronary death (see Table 1). The risk reduction due to treatment with Pravachol on CHD mortality was consistent regardless of age. Pravachol significantly reduced the risk for total mortality (by reducing CHD death) and CHD events (CHD mortality or nonfatal MI) in patients who qualified with a history of either MI or hospitalization for unstable angina pectoris.

Table 1: LIPID - Primary and Secondary Endpoints
Number (%) of Subjects
Event Pravastatin
40 mg
Primary Endpoint
    CHD mortality 287 (6.4) 373 (8.3) 24% 0.0004
Secondary Endpoints
    Total mortality 498 (11.0) 633 (14.1) 23% <0.0001
    CHD mortality or nonfatal MI 557 (12.3) 715 (15.9) 24% <0.0001
    Myocardial revascularization
    procedures (CABG or PTCA)
584 (12.9) 706 (15.7) 20% <0.0001
      All-cause 169 (3.7) 204 (4.5) 19% 0.0477
      Non-hemorrhagic 154 (3.4) 196 (4.4) 23% 0.0154
    Cardiovascular mortality 331 (7.3) 433 (9.6) 25% <0.0001

In the Cholesterol and Recurrent Events (CARE)3 study the effect of Pravachol, 40 mg daily, on coronary heart disease death and nonfatal MI was assessed in 4159 patients (3583 men and 576 women) who had experienced a myocardial infarction in the preceding 3-20 months and who had normal (below the 75th percentile of the general population) plasma total cholesterol levels. Patients in this double-blind, placebo-controlled study participated for an average of 4.9 years and had a mean baseline total cholesterol of 209 mg/dL. LDL-cholesterol levels in this patient population ranged from 101 mg/dL–180 mg/dL (mean 139 mg/dL). At baseline, 84% of patients were receiving aspirin and 82% were taking antihypertensive medications. Median (25th, 75th percentile) percent changes from baseline after 6 months of pravastatin treatment in Total-C, LDL-C, TG, and HDL-C were -22.0 (-28.4, -14.9), -32.4 (-39.9, -23.7), -11.0 (-26.5, 8.6), and 5.1 (-2.9, 12.7), respectively. Treatment with Pravachol significantly reduced the rate of first recurrent coronary events (either CHD death or nonfatal MI), the risk of undergoing revascularization procedures (PTCA, CABG), and the risk for stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) (see Table 2).

Table 2: CARE - Primary and Secondary Endpoints
Number (%) of Subjects
Event Pravastatin
40 mg

*The risk reduction due to treatment with Pravachol was consistent in both sexes.

Primary Endpoint
    CHD mortality or nonfatal MI* 212 (10.2) 274 (13.2) 24% 0.003
Secondary Endpoints
    Myocardial revascularization
    procedures (CABG or PTCA)
294 (14.1) 391 (18.8) 27% <0.001
    Stroke or TIA 93 (4.5) 124 (6.0) 26% 0.029

In the Pravastatin Limitation of Atherosclerosis in the Coronary Arteries (PLAC I)4 study, the effect of pravastatin therapy on coronary atherosclerosis was assessed by coronary angiography in patients with coronary disease and moderate hypercholesterolemia (baseline LDL-C range: 130-190 mg/dL). In this double-blind, multicenter, controlled clinical trial, angiograms were evaluated at baseline and at three years in 264 patients. Although the difference between pravastatin and placebo for the primary endpoint (per-patient change in mean coronary artery diameter) and one of two secondary endpoints (change in percent lumen diameter stenosis) did not reach statistical significance, for the secondary endpoint of change in minimum lumen diameter, statistically significant slowing of disease was seen in the pravastatin treatment group (p=0.02).

In the Regression Growth Evaluation Statin Study (REGRESS)5, the effect of pravastatin on coronary atherosclerosis was assessed by coronary angiography in 885 patients with angina pectoris, angiographically documented coronary artery disease and hypercholesterolemia (baseline total cholesterol range: 160-310 mg/dL). In this double-blind, multicenter, controlled clinical trial, angiograms were evaluated at baseline and at two years in 653 patients (323 treated with pravastatin). Progression of coronary atherosclerosis was significantly slowed in the pravastatin group as assessed by changes in mean segment diameter (p=0.037) and minimum obstruction diameter (p=0.001).

Analysis of pooled events from PLAC I, the Pravastatin, Lipids and Atherosclerosis in the Carotids Study (PLAC II)6, REGRESS, and the Kuopio Atherosclerosis Prevention Study (KAPS)7 (combined N=1891) showed that treatment with pravastatin was associated with a statistically significant reduction in the composite event rate of fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction (46 events or 6.4% for placebo versus 21 events or 2.4% for pravastatin, p=0.001). The predominant effect of pravastatin was to reduce the rate of nonfatal myocardial infarction.

Primary Hypercholesterolemia (Fredrickson Type IIa and IIb)

Pravachol (pravastatin sodium) is highly effective in reducing Total-C, LDL-C and triglycerides (TG) in patients with heterozygous familial, presumed familial combined and non-familial (non-FH) forms of primary hypercholesterolemia, and mixed dyslipidemia. A therapeutic response is seen within 1 week, and the maximum response usually is achieved within 4 weeks. This response is maintained during extended periods of therapy. In addition, Pravachol is effective in reducing the risk of acute coronary events in hypercholesterolemic patients with and without previous myocardial infarction.

A single daily dose is as effective as the same total daily dose given twice a day. In multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of patients with primary hypercholesterolemia, treatment with pravastatin in daily doses ranging from 10 mg to 40 mg consistently and significantly decreased Total-C, LDL-C, TG, and Total-C/HDL-C and LDL-C/HDL-C ratios (see Table 3).

In a pooled analysis of two multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of patients with primary hypercholesterolemia, treatment with pravastatin at a daily dose of 80 mg (N=277) significantly decreased Total-C, LDL-C, and TG. The 25th and 75th percentile changes from baseline in LDL-C for pravastatin 80 mg were -43% and -30%. The efficacy results of the individual studies were consistent with the pooled data (see Table 3).

Treatment with Pravachol modestly decreased VLDL-C and Pravachol across all doses produced variable increases in HDL-C (see Table 3).

Table 3: Primary Hypercholesterolemia Studies: Dose Response of Pravachol Once Daily Administration
Dose Total-C LDL-C HDL-C TG

* a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

**pooled analysis of 2 multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies

Mean Percent Changes From Baseline After 8 Weeks*
Placebo (N=36) -3% -4% +1% -4%
10 mg (N=18) -16% -22% +7% -15%
20 mg (N=19) -24% -32% +2% -11%
40 mg (N=18) -25% -34% +12% -24%
Mean Percent Changes From Baseline After 6 Weeks**
Placebo (N=162) 0% -1% -1% +1%
80 mg (N=277) -27% -37% +3% -19%

In another clinical trial, patients treated with pravastatin in combination with cholestyramine (70% of patients were taking cholestyramine 20 or 24 g per day) had reductions equal to or greater than 50% in LDL-C. Furthermore, pravastatin attenuated cholestyramine-induced increases in TG levels (which are themselves of uncertain clinical significance).

Hypertriglyceridemia (Fredrickson Type IV)

The response to pravastatin in patients with Type IV hyperlipidemia (baseline TG >200 mg/dL and LDL-C <160 mg/dL) was evaluated in a subset of 429 patients from the Cholesterol and Recurrent Events (CARE) study. For pravastatin-treated subjects, the median (min, max) baseline triglyceride level was 246.0 (200.5, 349.5) mg/dL. (See Table 4.)

Table 4: Patients with Fredrickson Type IV Hyperlipidemia Median (25th, 75th percentile) Percent Change from Baseline
Pravastatin 40 mg (N=429) Placebo (N=430)
Triglycerides -21.1 (-34.8, 1.3) -6.3 (-23.1, 18.3)
Total-C -22.1 (-27.1, -14.8) 0.2 (-6.9, 6.8)
LDL-C -31.7 (-39.6, -21.5) 0.7 (-9.0, 10.0)
HDL-C 7.4 (-1.2, 17.7) 2.8 (-5.7, 11.7)
Non-HDL-C -27.2 (-34.0, -18.5) -0.8 (-8.2, 7.0)

Dysbetalipoproteinemia (Fredrickson Type III)

The response to pravastatin in two double-blind crossover studies of 46 patients with genotype E2/E2 and Fredrickson Type III dysbetalipoproteinemia is shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Patients with Fredrickson Type III Dysbetalipoproteinemia Median (min, max) Percent Change from Baseline
Median (min, max)
at Baseline (mg/dL)
Median % Change (min, max)
Pravastatin 40 mg (N=20)
Study 1
Total-C 386.5 (245.0, 672.0) -32.7 (-58.5, 4.6)
Triglycerides 443.0 (275.0, 1299.0) -23.7 (-68.5, 44.7)
VLDL-C* 206.5 (110.0, 379.0) -43.8 (-73.1, -14.3)
LDL-C* 117.5 (80.0, 170.0) -40.8 (-63.7, 4.6)
HDL-C 30.0 (18.0, 88.0) 6.4 (-45.0, 105.6)
Non-HDL-C 344.5 (215.0, 646.0) -36.7 (-66.3, 5.8)
Median (min, max)
at Baseline (mg/dL)
Median % Change (min, max)
Pravastatin 40 mg (N=26)
Study 2
Total-C 340.3 (230.1, 448.6) -31.4 (-54.5, -13.0)
Triglycerides 343.2 (212.6, 845.9) -11.9 (-56.5, 44.8)
VLDL-C 145.0 (71.5, 309.4) -35.7 (-74.7, 19.1)
LDL-C 128.6 (63.8, 177.9) -30.3 (-52.2, 13.5)
HDL-C 38.7 (27.1, 58.0) 5.0 (-17.7, 66.7)
Non-HDL-C 295.8 (195.3, 421.5) -35.5 (-81.0, -13.5)

Pediatric Clinical Study

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 214 patients (100 boys and 114 girls) with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH), aged 8-18 years was conducted for two (2) years. The children (aged 8-13 years) were randomized to placebo (N=63) or 20 mg of pravastatin daily (N=65) and the adolescents (aged 14-18 years) were randomized to placebo (N=45) or 40 mg of pravastatin daily (N=41). Inclusion in the study required an LDL-C level >95th percentile for age and sex and one parent with either a clinical or molecular diagnosis of familial hypercholesterolemia. The mean baseline LDL-C value was 239 mg/dL and 237 mg/dL in the pravastatin (range: 151-405 mg/dL) and placebo (range: 154-375 mg/dL) groups, respectively.

Pravastatin significantly decreased plasma levels of LDL-C, Total-C, and apolipoprotein B in both children and adolescents (see Table 6). The effect of pravastatin treatment in the two age groups was similar.

Table 6: Lipid-Lowering Effects of Pravastatin in Pediatric Patients with Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia: Least-Squares Mean Percent Change from Baseline at Month 24 (Last Observation Carried Forward: Intent-to-Treat)*

* The above least-squares mean values were calculated based on log-transformed lipid values.

** Significant at p≤0.0001 when compared with placebo

20 mg
(Aged 8-13
40 mg
(Aged 14-18
(Aged 8-18
(Aged 8-18
95% CI of the Difference Between Combined Pravastatin and Placebo
LDL-C -26.04** -21.07** -24.07** -1.52 (-26.74, -18.86)
TC -20.75** -13.08** -17.72** -0.65 (-20.40, -13.83)
HDL-C 1.04 13.71 5.97 3.13 (-1.71, 7.43)
TG -9.58 -0.30 -5.88 -3.27 (-13.95, 10.01)
(-24.29, -16.18)

The mean achieved LDL-C was 186 mg/dL (range: 67-363 mg/dL) in the pravastatin group compared to 236 mg/dL (range: 105-438 mg/dL) in the placebo group.

The safety and efficacy of pravastatin doses above 40 mg daily have not been studied in children. The long-term efficacy of pravastatin therapy in childhood to reduce morbidity and mortality in adulthood has not been established.

Indications and Usage for Pravachol

Therapy with Pravachol (pravastatin sodium) should be considered in those individuals at increased risk for atherosclerosis-related clinical events as a function of cholesterol level, the presence or absence of coronary heart disease, and other risk factors.

Primary Prevention of Coronary Events

In hypercholesterolemic patients without clinically evident coronary heart disease, Pravachol is indicated to:

  • Reduce the risk of myocardial infarction
  • Reduce the risk of undergoing myocardial revascularization procedures
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality with no increase in death from non-cardiovascular causes.

Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Events

In patients with clinically evident coronary heart disease, Pravachol is indicated to:

  • Reduce the risk of total mortality by reducing coronary death
  • Reduce the risk of myocardial infarction
  • Reduce the risk of undergoing myocardial revascularization procedures
  • Reduce the risk of stroke and stroke/transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Slow the progression of coronary atherosclerosis.


Pravachol is indicated as an adjunct to diet to reduce elevated Total-C, LDL-C, ApoB, and TG levels and to increase HDL-C in patients with primary hypercholesterolemia and mixed dyslipidemia (Fredrickson Type IIa and IIb).8

Pravachol is indicated as adjunctive therapy to diet for the treatment of patients with elevated serum triglyceride levels (Fredrickson Type IV).

Pravachol is indicated for the treatment of patients with primary dysbetalipoproteinemia (Fredrickson Type III) who do not respond adequately to diet.

Pravachol is indicated as an adjunct to diet and lifestyle modification for treatment of HeFH in children and adolescent patients ages 8 years and older if after an adequate trial of diet the following findings are present:

  1. LDL-C remains ≥190 mg/dL or
  2. LDL-C remains ≥160 mg/dL and:
    • there is a positive family history of premature cardiovascular disease or
    • two or more other CVD risk factors are present in the patient.

Lipid-altering agents should be used in addition to a diet restricted in saturated fat and cholesterol when the response to diet and other nonpharmacological measures alone has been inadequate (see NCEP Guidelines below).

Prior to initiating therapy with pravastatin, secondary causes for hypercholesterolemia (e.g., poorly controlled diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, nephrotic syndrome, dysproteinemias, obstructive liver disease, other drug therapy, alcoholism) should be excluded, and a lipid profile performed to measure Total-C, HDL-C, and TG. For patients with triglycerides (TG) <400 mg/dL (<4.5 mmol/L), LDL-C can be estimated using the following equation:

LDL-C = Total-C - HDL-C - 1/5 TG

For TG levels >400 mg/dL (>4.5 mmol/L), this equation is less accurate and LDL-C concentrations should be determined by ultracentrifugation. In many hypertriglyceridemic patients, LDL-C may be low or normal despite elevated Total-C. In such cases, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors are not indicated.

Lipid determinations should be performed at intervals of no less than four weeks and dosage adjusted according to the patient's response to therapy.

The National Cholesterol Education Program's Treatment Guidelines are summarized below:

Table 7: NCEP Treatment Guidelines: LDL-C Goals and Cutpoints for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes and Drug Therapy in Different Risk Categories
Risk Category LDL Goal
LDL Level at Which to
Initiate Therapeutic
Lifestyle Changes
LDL Level at Which to
Consider Drug Therapy

a CHD, coronary heart disease.

b Some authorities recommend use of LDL-lowering drugs in this category if an LDL-C level of <100 mg/dL cannot be achieved by therapeutic lifestyle changes. Others prefer use of drugs that primarily modify triglycerides and HDL-C, e.g., nicotinic acid or fibrate. Clinical judgement also may call for deferring drug therapy in this subcategory.

c Almost all people with 0-1 risk factor have 10-year risk <10%; thus, 10-year risk assessment in people with 0-1 risk factor is not necessary.

CHDa or CHD risk
(10-year risk >20%)
<100 ≥100 ≥130
(100-129: drug optional)b
2+ Risk factors
(10-year risk ≤20 %)
<130 ≥130 10-year risk 10%-20%: ≥130
10-year risk <10%: ≥160
0-1 Risk factorc <160 ≥160 ≥190
(160-189: LDL-lowering
drug optional)

After the LDL-C goal has been achieved, if the TG is still ≥200 mg/dL, non-HDL-C (Total-C minus HDL-C) becomes a secondary target of therapy. Non-HDL-C goals are set 30 mg/dL higher than LDL-C goals for each risk category.

At the time of hospitalization for an acute coronary event, consideration can be given to initiating drug therapy at discharge if the LDL-C is ≥130 mg/dL (see NCEP Guidelines, above).

Since the goal of treatment is to lower LDL-C, the NCEP recommends that LDL-C levels be used to initiate and assess treatment response. Only if LDL-C levels are not available, should the Total-C be used to monitor therapy.

As with other lipid-lowering therapy, Pravachol (pravastatin sodium) is not indicated when hypercholesterolemia is due to hyperalphalipoproteinemia (elevated HDL-C).

The NCEP classification of cholesterol levels in pediatric patients with a familial history of hypercholesterolemia or premature cardiovascular disease is summarized below:

Category Total-C (mg/dL) LDL-C (mg/dL)
Acceptable <170 <110
Borderline 170-199 110-129
High ≥200 ≥130


Hypersensitivity to any component of this medication.

Active liver disease or unexplained, persistent elevations of serum transaminases (see WARNINGS).

Pregnancy and Lactation. Atherosclerosis is a chronic process and discontinuation of lipid-lowering drugs during pregnancy should have little impact on the outcome of long-term therapy of primary hypercholesterolemia. Cholesterol and other products of cholesterol biosynthesis are essential components for fetal development (including synthesis of steroids and cell membranes). Since HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors decrease cholesterol synthesis and possibly the synthesis of other biologically active substances derived from cholesterol, they are contraindicated during pregnancy and in nursing mothers. Pravastatin should be administered to women of childbearing age only when such patients are highly unlikely to conceive and have been informed of the potential hazards. If the patient becomes pregnant while taking this class of drug, therapy should be discontinued immediately and the patient apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus (see PRECAUTIONS: Pregnancy).


Liver Enzymes

HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, like some other lipid-lowering therapies, have been associated with biochemical abnormalities of liver function. In three long-term (4.8-5.9 years), placebo-controlled clinical trials (WOS, LIPID, CARE; see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY: Clinical Studies), 19,592 subjects (19,768 randomized), were exposed to pravastatin or placebo. In an analysis of serum transaminase values (ALT, AST), incidences of marked abnormalities were compared between the pravastatin and placebo treatment groups; a marked abnormality was defined as a post-treatment test value greater than three times the upper limit of normal for subjects with pretreatment values less than or equal to the upper limit of normal, or four times the pretreatment value for subjects with pretreatment values greater than the upper limit of normal but less than 1.5 times the upper limit of normal. Marked abnormalities of ALT or AST occurred with similar low frequency (≤1.2%) in both treatment groups. Overall, clinical trial experience showed that liver function test abnormalities observed during pravastatin therapy were usually asymptomatic, not associated with cholestasis, and did not appear to be related to treatment duration.

It is recommended that liver function tests be performed prior to the initiation of therapy, prior to the elevation of the dose, and when otherwise clinically indicated.

Active liver disease or unexplained persistent transaminase elevations are contraindications to the use of pravastatin (see CONTRAINDICATIONS). Caution should be exercised when pravastatin is administered to patients who have a recent history of liver disease, have signs that may suggest liver disease (e.g., unexplained aminotransferase elevations, jaundice), or are heavy users of alcohol (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY: Pharmacokinetics/Metabolism). Such patients should be closely monitored, started at the lower end of the recommended dosing range, and titrated to the desired therapeutic effect.

Patients who develop increased transaminase levels or signs and symptoms of liver disease should be monitored with a second liver function evaluation to confirm the finding and be followed thereafter with frequent liver function tests until the abnormality(ies) return to normal. Should an increase in AST or ALT of three times the upper limit of normal or greater persist, withdrawal of pravastatin therapy is recommended.

Skeletal Muscle

Rare cases of rhabdomyolysis with acute renal failure secondary to myoglobinuria have been reported with pravastatin and other drugs in this class. Uncomplicated myalgia has also been reported in pravastatin-treated patients (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). Myopathy, defined as muscle aching or muscle weakness in conjunction with increases in creatine phosphokinase (CPK) values to greater than 10 times the upper limit of normal, was rare (<0.1%) in pravastatin clinical trials. Myopathy should be considered in any patient with diffuse myalgias, muscle tenderness or weakness, and/or marked elevation of CPK. Patients should be advised to report promptly unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness, particularly if accompanied by malaise or fever. Pravastatin therapy should be discontinued if markedly elevated CPK levels occ

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