The results of a new study are out, which show the dangers Zocor in high doses or in conjunction with other drugs. Zocor is indicated as one component of multiple risk factor intervention for people at significantly increased risk of atherosclerotic vascular disease due to hypercholesterolemia. Evidence shows that high levels of Zocor, more so than similar cholesterol-reducing drugs (statins), can cause myopathy and rhabdomyolysis, which can cause severe kidney damage, kidney failure, and death. If this evidence keeps coming, don’t be surprised to see a Zocor recall or withdrawal (or Merck simply stops putting new products on the shelves). In fact, more evidence has accumulated about Zocor since this blog post in 2010 and our lawyers are not reviewing potential Zocor lawsuits
Myopathy is a muscular disease that causes muscular weakness. Rhabdomyolysis is a very specific type of myopathy, the rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle because of muscle tissue injury. The broken-down material can be released into the bloodstream and may cause acute kidney failure. Signs and symptoms for myopathy include unexplained muscle fatigue, muscle pain, tenderness, and an elevation of a muscle enzyme in the blood (creatine kinase). Rhabdomyolysis is often characterized by fatigue and dark or red urine, besides the symptoms of myopathy.
In the trial (known as SEARCH), patients taking an 80mg dose were compared to patients taking a lower 20mg dose. 52 patients taking the higher dose developed myopathy, compared to one patient taking the lower dose. Eleven patients taking the higher dose developed rhabdomyolysis, compared to zero patients taking the lower dose.
Merck is hiding the ball somewhat—at first glance, it appears to have no comment—the Zocor website was removed (though, to be fair, I’m not sure when it was taken down). It’s a shame they couldn’t use the website to provide comprehensive information to their customers who no doubt have heard the bad news about Zocor and may want some guidance. But for intrepid customers who dig a little deeper, there is a small statement at Merck’s main website, stating that:
We support the FDA’s recommendation that patients continue taking their medication as prescribed by their physicians, and that patients speak to their physician if they have symptoms or questions.