BACKGROUND: Simvastatin reduces cardiovascular mortality and morbidity but, as with other HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, can cause significant muscle toxicity and has been associated with elevations of liver transaminases. METHODS: Muscle and liver adverse effects of simvastatin 40 mg daily were evaluated in a randomized placebo-controlled trial involving 20,536 UK patients with vascular disease or diabetes (in which a substantial reduction of cardiovascular mortality and morbidity has previously been demonstrated). RESULTS: The excess incidence of myopathy in the simvastatin group was < 0.1% over the 5 years of the trial, and there were no significant differences between the treatment groups in the incidence of serious hepatobiliary disease. CONCLUSION: Among the many different types of high-risk patient studied (including women, older individuals and those with low cholesterol levels), there was a very low incidence (< 0.1%) of myopathy during 5 years treatment with simvastatin 40 mg daily. The risk of hepatitis, if any, was undetectable even in this very large long-term trial. Routine monitoring of liver function tests during treatment with simvastatin 40 mg is not useful.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Clin Pharmacol

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Aged, Anticholesteremic Agents, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors, Hypoglycemic Agents, Incidence, Liver, Middle Aged, Muscles, Muscular Diseases, Patient Compliance, Placebos, Risk Factors, Simvastatin, Treatment Outcome