I get a lot of questions about statin drugs and grapefruit juice. Here are two examples:
A question from a reader: I take Zocor. The instructions on the bottle advise against drinking grapefruit juice. But, what if I take the drug at the evening meal or before bedtime and eat one-half of a grapefruit in the morning?
A question from a friend: I've heard that I should not consume grapefruit products while taking Lipitor. I love grapefruit juice but have given it up based on this information. Is this true? Will the occasional glass of grapefruit juice harm me? Does it matter when during I drink grapefruit juice?
Grapefruit juice and certain statins (used to treat high cholesterol) such as Lipitor (atorvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), and Zocor (simvastatin) do not mix.
Grapefruit juice inhibits a substance in your small intestine that helps break down dozens of medications, including Lipitor, Mevacor, and Zocor. If you drink grapefruit juice while taking any of these medications, too much of the drugs’ active ingredient may enter your blood stream. This could result in side effects such as a dangerous muscle disorder or liver damage.
The time that you take one of these medications and the time that you eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice does not reduce your risk of drug-related side effects –- an interaction can happen up to three days after consuming grapefruit. This means that you cannot drink grapefruit juice in the morning and take your medication later in the day.
You have several options:
- You can exclude grapefruit from your diet and substitute other fruits and fruit juices, or
- If you want to continue to consume grapefruit products, talk to your doctor about using an alternative medication.
Several available statins do not interact with grapefruit juice and are safe to use. These include:
- Crestor (rosuvastatin)
- Lescol (fluvastatin)
- Pravachol (pravastatin)