Zocor is a prescription drug that treats high cholesterol. It falls into a category of drugs known as statins. Zocor is used to lower “bad,” or LDL cholesterol levels in a patient’s body. Furthermore, it is supposed to simultaneously increase “good,” or HDL cholesterol levels.
Zocor is prescribed to people who currently have diabetes or coronary heart disease, as well as those who are at risk of developing these health problems. Zocor is designed to help lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other heart related complications that can result from high cholesterol.
Zocor is manufactured by Merck. Zocor was approved by the FDA in 1991, and it was first made available to patients in the US in 1992. By 1995, the drug had been prescribed to over 1 million Americans and 2.1 million patients in the rest of the world.
How Statins Work
Statins are drugs which lower cholesterol by blocking its production. Since first being approved by the F.D.A. in 1987, statins have become a central component in fighting heart disease risk. They are used in cases when exercise and proper diet alone do not sufficiently lower a person’s cholesterol.
As a statin, Zocor decreases cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol production before it begins. The liver produces 70 percent of all cholesterol in the body. It does this by converting mevalonic acid into cholesterol. Zocor blocks production of the enzyme which creates mevalonic acid. Less mevalonic acid is produced and as a result the liver creates less cholesterol.
Side Effects of Zocor
Some people have an allergic reaction to Zocor. This can consist of difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling of the face, throat and tongue. Zocor may also cause a condition called myopathy, which causes skeletal muscle tissue to break down. Women are more likely than men to develop myopathy as a result of using Zocor.
Myopathy can in turn lead to a more serious disease known as rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis can cause kidney failure. Rhabdomyolysis is most likely to affect older adults, people with kidney disease, and those with an underactive thyroid.
Other serious side effects from Zocor include:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin)
- Loss of appetite
- Memory problems or confusion
- Muscle weakness, pain or tenderness (Likelihood of experiencing this symptom goes up with dosage size.)
- Fever and unexplained tiredness
- Weight gain and very limited urination
Less serious side effects from Zocor include:
- Joint pain
- Mild skin rash
- Insomnia or sleeping problems
- Constipation or abdominal pain
- Cold symptoms (sore throat, congestion, sneezing)
Zocor F.D.A. Safety Alert
In 1998, the F.D.A. approved an 80-milligram, high-dosage version of Zocor. However, in 2010, the FDA issued a safety warning about 80-milligram Zocor. By 2011, Zocor and generic Zocor had been taken by over 2.1 million Americans.
Also in 2011, the F.D.A. released new safety restrictions after Zocor was proven to cause myopathy. The restrictions stated that no new patients should be given the 80-milligram version of Zocor. They also recommended that individuals already taking this high dosage should only continue if they had been taking it for over a year without any muscle pain.
Many claims have been filed by personal injury attorneys and citizens’ watch groups on behalf of patients who were prescribed Zocor. Aggrieved parties believe that Merck did not provide adequate information about the risks involved with Zocor. They believe that Merck knew about the serious side effects that Zocor could bring on and did not effectively warn consumers. Additionally, claimants feel that the makers of Zocor failed to do adequate research into the causes of Zocor’s side effects.