Pravachol is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s FDA-approved for use with a healthy diet to help:

Pravachol is approved to treat these conditions in certain situations. It also has certain limitations on how it can be used. For more information about how the drug is used, see the “Pravachol uses” section below.

* “Cardiovascular” refers to your heart and blood vessels. Examples of cardiovascular disease include stroke and heart attack.

Drug details

Pravachol comes as a tablet that you take by mouth once per day. It’s available in two strengths: 20 milligrams (mg) and 40 mg.

The active drug in Pravachol is pravastatin, which is classified as a statin. Statins are a drug class used to treat high cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart problems. (A drug class is a group of medications that work in a similar way.)

Effectiveness

For information about the effectiveness of Pravachol, see the “Pravachol uses” section below.

Pravachol is a brand-name drug that contains the active drug pravastatin. This active drug is also available as a generic medication. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication.

The generic is considered to be as safe and effective as the original drug. Generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

Brand-name Pravachol and the generic version, pravastatin, come in the different strengths. Pravachol is available in two strengths: 20 (milligrams) mg and 40 mg. Pravastatin is also available in the 20 mg and 40 mg strengths, plus two additional strengths: 10 mg and 80 mg.

Pravachol can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Pravachol. These lists do not include all possible side effects.

For more information about the possible side effects of Pravachol, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be bothersome.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs they have approved. If you would like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Pravachol, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects of Pravachol can include*:

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* This is a partial list of mild side effects from Pravachol. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or view Pravachol’s prescribing information.
† For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect details” below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Pravachol aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect details” below.

Side effects in children

In clinical studies, children who took Pravachol experienced similar side effects as children who were given a placebo. These side effects are similar to those seen in adults. See the “Mild side effects” and “Serious side effects” sections above. The two most common side effects in children were headache and upper respiratory infection.

Side effect details

You may wonder how often certain side effects occur with this drug. Here’s some detail on certain side effects this drug may cause.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Pravachol. In clinical trials, less than 2% of people who took Pravachol had an allergic reaction. Of those who had an allergic reaction, it’s unknown whether they had reactions that were considered mild or severe.

It’s not known how many people who took a placebo may have had an allergic reaction.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (warmth, swelling, or redness in your skin)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Pravachol, as the reaction could become severe. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Weight gain or weight loss

Some people may experience weight gain or weight loss while taking Pravachol. Both of these side effects were reported in clinical trials of the drug.

Specifically, here’s how often people taking Pravachol or a placebo in these studies reported weight gain or weight loss:

PravacholPlacebo
Weight gain3.8%3.3%
Weight loss3.3%2.8%

If you’re concerned about your weight while taking Pravachol, talk with your doctor. If you’re using Pravachol to treat high cholesterol, your doctor should also talk to you about a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. This type of diet can help you manage your weight.

Muscle or joint pain

Some people may have muscle or joint pain while taking Pravachol. Clinical studies of Pravachol looked at the drug’s use over a long period of time. These studies included 21,483 people, and at least half of them took Pravachol for 261 weeks or longer.

During these studies, 24.9% of people who took Pravachol reported muscle pain. Of the people taking a placebo (a treatment with no active drug), 24.4% reported muscle pain.

Joint pain wasn’t reported in these studies. However, since Pravachol was released onto the market, there have been some reports of joint pain. It’s not known how many people taking Pravachol may have had joint pain. It’s also not known for certain if joint pain is caused by Pravachol or something else.

If you have unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness while taking Pravachol, call your doctor right away. Although most cases of muscle pain aren’t serious, it could be a symptom of a more serious problem.

Calling your doctor is especially important if you have other symptoms in addition to muscle pain. For example, experiencing fatigue (lack of energy) or malaise (overall feeling of discomfort) with muscle pain could be a sign of a severe and potentially life threatening muscle condition called rhabdomyolysis.

If your muscle pain is mild, your doctor may lower your dose of Pravachol, or they may decide to try a different medication to treat your condition. Typically, muscle pain goes away once you stop taking Pravachol.

Depression or anxiety

Taking Pravachol could cause some people to experience depression or anxiety.

Some studies looked at Pravachol’s use over a short period of time. In these studies, half of the people who used Pravachol took the drug for at least 14 weeks. Some people in these studies stopped taking the drug due to anxiety or depression. It’s not known exactly how many people stopped treatment for these reasons. However, it is known that this happened more in people taking Pravachol than in people who took a placebo (a treatment with no active drug).

In longer clinical studies (in which half the people took Pravachol for at least 261 weeks):

  • 4.8% of people who took Pravachol experienced anxiety or nervousness
  • 4.7% of people who took a placebo experienced anxiety or nervousness

If you have depression, anxiety, or any changes in your mood while taking Pravachol, talk with your doctor. They can determine the best treatment for your condition.

Memory loss

As with other statins, memory loss can occur in some people taking Pravachol. This has been reported as early as 1 day after starting the drug, but it’s also occurred in people who have been taking the drug for years.

In clinical studies, less than 2% of people taking Pravachol reported memory loss. It’s not known how often this side effect may have occurred in people who took a placebo.

In most cases, memory loss resulting from taking Pravachol wasn’t serious in the clinical studies. On average, memory loss goes away about 3 weeks after you stop taking the drug.

Since Pravachol was released onto the market, side effects such as memory loss, forgetfulness, and confusion have been reported. It’s not known how often these side effects may have occurred. It’s also not known for certain whether these side effects were caused by Pravachol or something else. These side effects have been reported with other statins as well.

If you experience memory loss while taking Pravachol, talk with your doctor. They may decide to try a different medication to treat your condition.

Hair loss

Some people may experience hair loss while taking Pravachol. In clinical studies, less than 2% of people taking Pravachol reported hair loss. It’s not known how often this side effect may have happened in people who took a placebo. In addition, it isn’t known for certain whether this side effect is caused by Pravachol or something else.

If you’re concerned about hair loss while taking Pravachol, talk with your doctor. They may recommend ways to treat this side effect. Or they may have you switch to a different medication to treat your condition.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Pravachol to treat certain conditions. Pravachol may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label use is when a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Pravachol for preventing cardiovascular disease

Pravachol is FDA-approved to prevent cardiovascular disease in adults. “Cardiovascular” refers to your heart and blood vessels. Examples of cardiovascular disease include stroke and heart attack.

For this use, Pravachol is used along with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. See the sections below for more details on Pravachol’s specific uses.

Pravachol for preventing cardiovascular problems in adults with heart disease

Pravachol is FDA-approved to prevent cardiovascular problems in adults with heart disease. For those with heart disease, Pravachol is used to:

  • lower the risk for death due to heart disease
  • lower the risk for heart attack
  • lower the risk for stroke
  • reduce the need for certain procedures for unclogging arteries in the heart
  • slow the progression of atherosclerosis (narrowing of your arteries)

Effectiveness for preventing cardiovascular problems in people with heart disease

One clinical study looked at more than 9,000 adults with heart disease who’d had a heart attack or had been hospitalized due to unstable angina (chest pain or tightness) within the past 3 to 36 months.

People in the study took either 40 milligrams (mg) of Pravachol or a placebo (a treatment with no active drug) once per day for an average of nearly 5.5 years.

Researchers wanted to see how effective each treatment was at lowering rates of heart attack and death due to heart disease. At the end of the study:

  • people who took Pravachol had their risk for non-fatal heart attack or death from heart disease reduced by 24% more than people who took a placebo
  • people who took Pravachol had their risk for stroke reduced by 19% more than people who took a placebo.

Pravachol for preventing cardiovascular problems in adults without heart disease

Pravachol may also be used to prevent cardiovascular disease in adults with high cholesterol who don’t have heart disease.

Effectiveness for preventing cardiovascular problems in adults without heart disease

One study looked at more than 6,500 adults with high cholesterol who didn’t have heart disease or a history of heart attack. People in this study received dietary advice and also took either 40 mg of Pravachol or a placebo once per day for an average of nearly 5 years.

Researchers wanted to see how effective each treatment was at lowering the risk of heart attack and death due to heart disease.

The results showed that people who took Pravachol had their risk for heart attack or death from heart disease reduced by 31% more than people who took a placebo.

Pravachol for treating high cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Pravachol is FDA-approved to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in adults. For this purpose, Pravachol is used along with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Pravachol is also approved to treat high cholesterol in children ages 8 years and older. For more information, see the “Pravachol and children” section below.

High cholesterol usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. It’s typically diagnosed after getting a blood test to check your cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol is measured in several ways. Total cholesterol is the overall amount of cholesterol found in your blood. Total cholesterol consists of:

  • low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), sometimes referred to as “bad cholesterol”
  • high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), sometimes referred to as “good cholesterol”
  • triglycerides, fats that are building blocks of cholesterol

Pravachol is approved to treat high cholesterol and triglyceride levels in certain situations. It also has certain limitations on its use. The sections below describe these situations and limitations in more detail.

Pravachol for primary high cholesterol or mixed high cholesterol

Pravachol is FDA-approved, along with a healthy diet, to help lower cholesterol levels in adults with the following conditions:

  • Primary hyperlipidemia. People with this condition have high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Primary hyperlipidemia is also called primary high cholesterol.
  • Mixed hyperlipidemia. People with this condition have high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, and low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Mixed hyperlipidemia is also called mixed high cholesterol.

Primary and mixed high cholesterol are caused by a mutation (permanent change) in the genes that control how cholesterol and fats are cleared from your body. In people with either condition, Pravachol can help:

  • reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels
  • reduce levels of a protein called apolipoprotein B (Apo B)*
  • increase HDL levels

* High levels of Apo B are a sign of high cholesterol.

Pravachol for high triglycerides

Pravachol is FDA-approved to lower triglyceride levels in adults with high amounts of triglycerides in their blood.

Pravachol for people who aren’t able to break down lipids

Pravachol is FDA-approved to lower triglyceride and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol levels in adults with type III hyperlipoproteinemia. People with this condition can’t properly break down lipids (fats).

VLDL helps move triglycerides through your body. This is different from LDL, which helps move cholesterol through your body.

Limitations of use for treating high cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Pravachol isn’t approved to lower high cholesterol caused by high levels of chylomicrons, also known as ultra low-density lipoprotein (ULDL cholesterol). Chylomicrons help your body digest fat.

Effectiveness for treating high cholesterol and triglycerides

Several studies have shown Pravachol to be effective for treating high cholesterol and triglyceride levels in adults.

Three clinical studies (two lasting 6 weeks, one lasting 8 weeks) looked at adults with primary or mixed high cholesterol.

People in these studies either took Pravachol at various doses or a placebo (a treatment with no active drug) once per day. Researchers measured people’s cholesterol levels at the beginning and end of the studies to see how effective each treatment was at lowering cholesterol levels.

At the end of the studies:

  • People who took Pravachol had their total cholesterol lowered by 16% to 27%, depending on their dose. People who took a placebo had their total cholesterol lowered by 0% to 3%.
  • People who took Pravachol had their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol lowered by 22% to 37%, depending on their dose. People who took a placebo had their LDL cholesterol lowered by 1% to 4%.
  • People who took Pravachol had their triglycerides lowered by 11% to 24%, depending on their dose. People who took a placebo had a range of results, from a 1% increase in triglyceride levels to a decrease of 4%.
  • People who took Pravachol had their HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased by 2% to 12%, depending on their dose. People who took a placebo had a range of results, from a 1% decrease in HDL cholesterol to an increase of 1%.

Pravachol and children

Pravachol is approved to lower cholesterol in children ages 8 years and older who have a condition called heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH). This condition is a genetic (inherited) condition that causes high cholesterol.

Pravachol is only approved for this use if, after trying a diet prescribed by their doctor, your child still falls into one of the following categories.

  • They have an LDL cholesterol level of 190 mg/dL or higher.
  • They have an LDL cholesterol level of 160 mg/dL or higher. In addition, they have either a family history of early heart disease or two or more risk factors for heart disease.

High cholesterol rarely causes any symptoms. HeFH is typically diagnosed after a blood test finds that your child has high cholesterol. For this reason, it’s important to ask your child’s doctor about checking for HeFH if:

  • either of the child’s biological parents has HeFH
  • the child has a biological parent or sibling with a history of premature heart disease (before age 65 years for women or age 55 years for men)
  • the child’s LDL level is 160 mg/dL or higher

Effectiveness for treating HeFH in children

A 2-year clinical trial looked at 214 children ages 8 to 18 years with HeFH. Children ages 8 to 13 years took either 20 mg of Pravachol or a placebo (a treatment with no active drug) once a day. Children ages 14 to 18 years took either 40 mg of Pravachol or a placebo once a day.

Researchers wanted to see how effective each treatment was at lowering cholesterol levels. After 2 years:

  • Children who took Pravachol had their total cholesterol lowered by 17.72%. Children who took a placebo had their total cholesterol lowered by 0.65%.
  • Children who took Pravachol had their LDL cholesterol lowered by 24.07%. Children who took a placebo had their LDL cholesterol lowered by 1.52%.
  • Children who took Pravachol had their triglycerides lowered by 5.88%. Children who took a placebo had their triglycerides lowered by 3.27%.

Depending on the condition Pravachol is being used to treat, it may be taken on its own or with other drugs.

Examples of other drugs that may be used with Pravachol to treat high cholesterol include:

  • bile acid binding resins, such as:
    • cholestyramine (Prevalite)
    • colesevelam (Welchol)
    • colestipol (Colestid)
  • ezetimibe (Zetia)
  • injectable medications, such as:
    • alirocumab (Praluent)

If your doctor has prescribed a bile acid binding resin for you to take with Pravachol, you shouldn’t take these medications at the same time. Specifically, you should take Pravachol either 1 hour before or at least 4 hours after you take your bile acid binding resin.

If you have questions about using other medications with Pravachol, talk with your doctor.

The Pravachol dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:

  • the type and severity of the condition you’re using Pravachol to treat
  • your age
  • the form of Pravachol you take
  • other medical conditions you may have
  • side effects that you may experience while taking this medication

Typically, your doctor will start you on a low dosage. Then they’ll adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Drug forms and strengths

Pravachol comes as a tablet that you take by mouth. It’s available in two strengths: 20 (milligrams) mg and 40 mg.

Pravachol used to also be available in strengths of 10 mg and 80 mg, but those strengths are no longer on the market.

Dosage for preventing cardiovascular disease

The recommended starting dosage for preventing cardiovascular disease in adults is 40 mg taken once per day. However, your doctor may prescribe a dosage of 10 mg to 80 mg daily.

Your specific dosage will depend on how effective Pravachol is for your condition and whether you have any side effects from the drug.

Dosage for treating high cholesterol and triglyceride levels

The recommended starting dosage for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels in adults is 40 mg taken once per day. However, your doctor may prescribe a dosage of 10 mg to 80 mg daily.

Your specific dosage will depend on how effective Pravachol is for your condition and whether you have any side effects from the drug.

Children’s dosage

The recommended Pravachol dosage in children depends on age.

In children ages 8 to 13 years, the recommended starting dosage to treat high cholesterol is 20 mg taken once per day. However, your child may be prescribed a dose of 10 mg to 20 mg. Doses higher than 20 mg haven’t been studied for children in this age range.

For children ages 14 to 18 years, the recommended starting dosage to treat high cholesterol is 40 mg taken once per day. However, your child may be prescribed a dose of 10 mg to 40 mg. Doses higher than 40 mg haven’t been studied for children in this age range.

Dosage questions

Below are answers to some questions you may have about taking Pravachol.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s close to when you’re supposed to take your next dose, just skip the missed dose and take your next dose as planned.

You shouldn’t take two doses at once to try to make up for the missed dose. This can raise your risk for side effects from the drug.

To help make sure you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm on your phone or downloading a reminder app. A kitchen timer can work, too.

Will I need to use this drug long term?

Pravachol is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Pravachol is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term.

Other drugs are available that can treat your condition. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Pravachol, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

Note: Some of the drugs listed here are used off-label to treat these specific conditions. Off-label use is when a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Alternatives for treating high cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat high cholesterol and triglyceride levels include:

  • other statins, such as:
    • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
    • fluvastatin
    • lovastatin
    • pitavastatin
  • bile acid binding resins, such as:
    • cholestyramine (Prevalite)
    • colesevelam (Welchol)
    • colestipol (Colestid)
  • ezetimibe (Zetia)
  • fibrates, such as:
    • fenofibrate (Antara, Lipofen, Tricor)
    • gemfibrozil (Lopid)
  • injectable medications, such as:
    • alirocumab (Praluent)

Alternatives for preventing cardiovascular disease

Examples of other drugs that may be used to prevent cardiovascular disease include:

  • other statins, such as:
    • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
    • simvastatin (Zocor)
    • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
    • fluvastatin
    • lovastatin
    • pitavastatin
  • injectable medications, such as:
    • alirocumab (Praluent)
    • evolocumab (Repatha)

You may wonder how Pravachol compares with other medications that are prescribed for similar uses. Here we look at how Pravachol and Lipitor are alike and different.

Ingredients

Pravachol contains the active drug pravastatin, and Lipitor contains the active drug atorvastatin. Both pravastatin and atorvastatin are statins. Statins are a drug class commonly used to treat high cholesterol. (A drug class is a group of medications that work in a similar way).

Uses

Both Pravachol and Lipitor are FDA-approved for use with a healthy diet to help:

* Pravachol is approved for this use in children ages 8 years and older. Lipitor is approved for this use in children ages 10 years and older.

Drug forms and administration

Both Pravachol and Lipitor come as tablets that you take by mouth once per day.

Pravachol is available in two strengths: 20 (milligrams) mg and 40 mg.

Lipitor is available in four strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg.

Side effects and risks

Pravachol and Lipitor have some similar side effects and others that vary. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

These lists contain up to 10 of the most common mild side effects that can occur with each drug, as well as mild side effects that both drugs may share.

Serious side effects

This list contains examples of serious side effects that can occur with both Pravachol and Lipitor:

Effectiveness

These drugs haven’t been directly compared in clinical studies. However, studies have found both Pravachol and Lipitor to be effective for treating high cholesterol.

Pravachol and Lipitor have been indirectly compared in a meta-analysis. This is a type of study that looks at data from multiple clinical trials. The researchers who conducted the analysis found Pravachol and Lipitor to be similarly effective at lowering the risk of cardiovascular problems and death in adults.

The American College of Cardiology releases guidelines for managing high cholesterol. Statins, including Pravachol and Lipitor, are listed in these guidelines as effective medications.

The statin your doctor prescribes for you will depend on factors such as your age, cholesterol level, and your risk for cardiovascular problems. If you have questions about which statin is right for you, talk with your doctor.

Costs

According to estimates on GoodRx.com, Pravachol costs significantly less than Lipitor. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Pravachol is available as a generic drug called pravastatin. Lipitor is available as a generic drug called atorvastatin. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The generic is considered to be as safe and effective as the original drug. Generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

As with all medications, the cost of Pravachol can vary. To find current prices for Pravachol in your area, check out GoodRx.com.

The cost you find on GoodRx.com is what you may pay without insurance. The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Before approving coverage for Pravachol, your insurance company may require you to get prior authorization. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the prior authorization request and decide if the drug will be covered.

If you’re not sure if you’ll need to get prior authorization for Pravachol, contact your insurance company.

Financial and insurance assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Pravachol, help may be available.

Medicine Assistance Tool is a website that lists programs that may help lower the cost of certain medications. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible for financial support, visit their website.

Generic version

Pravachol is available in a generic form called pravastatin. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The generic is considered to be as safe and effective as the original drug. And generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs. To find out how the cost of pravastatin compares to the cost of Pravachol, visit GoodRx.com.

If your doctor has prescribed Pravachol and you’re interested in using pravastatin instead, talk with your doctor. They may have a preference for one version or the other. You’ll also need to check your insurance plan, as it may only cover one or the other.

There isn’t a known interaction between taking Pravachol and consuming alcohol.

However, consistently drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause liver damage. Pravachol may also cause liver damage in some people. Therefore, drinking too much during your Pravachol treatment could raise your risk for liver problems.

If you drink alcohol, especially in large amounts, talk with your doctor before taking Pravachol. They can tell you how much alcohol, if any, is safe to drink during your treatment.

Pravachol can interact with several other medications, as well as interact with certain supplements.

Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase side effects or make them more severe.

Pravachol and other medications

Below is information about medications that can interact with Pravachol. This does not cover all drugs that may interact with Pravachol.

Before taking Pravachol, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Pravachol and cyclosporine

Taking Pravachol with cyclosporine may raise your risk for muscle pain and a dangerous condition called rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown).

Cyclosporine blocks certain enzymes (proteins) that your body uses to break down Pravachol. Blocking these enzymes leads to higher levels of Pravachol in your blood, which can lead to side effects such as muscle pain.

Cyclosporine is used to help prevent your body from rejecting a transplanted organ. It’s also prescribed to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

If you’re taking cyclosporine, talk with your doctor before taking Pravachol. According to the drug’s manufacturer, you shouldn’t take a Pravachol dose above 20 (milligrams) mg while taking cyclosporine. Your doctor may decide to prescribe this dose, or they may try a different medication for your condition.

Pravachol and certain antibiotics

Taking Pravachol with certain antibiotics called macrolides may increase your risk for experiencing muscle pain and a dangerous condition called rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown).

This can occur because macrolides block certain enzymes (proteins) that your body uses to break down Pravachol. Blocking these enzymes leads to higher levels of Pravachol in your blood, which can lead to side effects such as muscle pain.

Macrolides are used to treat certain infections. Examples of macrolides include clarithromycin and erythromycin.

If you’re taking clarithromycin, talk with your doctor before using Pravachol. According to the drug’s manufacturer, you shouldn’t take a Pravachol dose above 40 mg while taking clarithromycin. Your doctor may decide to prescribe this dose, or they may try a different medication for your condition.

If you’re taking a macrolide antibiotic other than clarithromycin, talk with your doctor. They may lower your Pravachol dose, or they have you try a different medication for your condition.

Pravachol and colchicine

Taking Pravachol with colchicine may raise your risk for muscle pain and a dangerous condition called rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown).

Colchicine blocks certain enzymes (proteins) that your body uses to break down Pravachol. Blocking these enzymes leads to higher levels of Pravachol in your blood, which can lead to side effects such as muscle pain.

Colchicine is used to treat gout, and this drug can also cause muscle pain. If you need to take Pravachol with colchicine, your doctor may lower your dose of Pravachol. Or they may use a different medication to treat your condition.

Pravachol and gemfibrozil and other fibrates

You shouldn’t take Pravachol and gemfibrozil (Lopid) together. Gemfibrozil is a fibrate drug used to lower the amount of fats (such as triglycerides) in your blood.

Taking Pravachol with gemfibrozil may raise your risk for muscle pain and a dangerous condition called rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown). Both medications can cause these side effects, and taking the drugs together raises your risk for them even more.

Before taking Pravachol, tell your doctor if you’re taking gemfibrozil or another fibrate drug, such as fenofibrate. Fibrate medications may also cause muscle pain as a side effect. Although the interaction with other fibrates isn’t as serious as gemfibrozil, Pravachol may still interact with these drugs.

If you need to take Pravachol with a fibrate other than gemfibrozil, your doctor may lower your dose of Pravachol. Or they may prescribe a different medication to treat your condition.

Pravachol and niacin (vitamin B3)

Taking Pravachol with niacin (vitamin B3) may raise your risk for muscle pain. Vitamin B3 is prescribed to treat high cholesterol. It’s also available as an over-the-counter supplement. Both medications can cause muscle pain, so taking them together raises your risk for muscle pain even more.

If you need to take Pravachol with vitamin B3, your doctor may lower your dose of Pravachol. Or they may have you try a different medication to treat your condition.

Pravachol and herbs and supplements

Pravachol is known to interact with niacin (vitamin B3), which is available both as a prescription medication and as an over-the-counter supplement. See the “Pravachol and niacin (vitamin B3)” section directly above for more details.

Pravachol and foods

There aren’t any foods that have been specifically reported to interact with Pravachol. If you have any questions about eating certain foods with Pravachol, talk with your doctor.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Pravachol.

Is Pravachol safe for people with diabetes?

Yes. Pravachol is safe for use in people with diabetes. Statin drugs like Pravachol are commonly used to prevent cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) problems in people with diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes and risk factors for heart disease should take a statin drug.

If you have questions about whether Pravachol is safe for you to use, talk with your doctor.

Is Pravachol linked to tinnitus?

Maybe, but it’s not clear. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) wasn’t a reported side effect in clinical trials of Pravachol. Some studies suggest statins such as Pravachol may actually help improve tinnitus.

However, according to other studies, some people taking statin drugs such as Pravachol have experienced tinnitus.

More research is needed to determine whether statins are linked with tinnitus. If you have questions about the side effects of Pravachol, talk with your doctor.

Is there a certain diet I should follow while I’m taking Pravachol?

No, there isn’t a specific diet you need to follow while taking Pravachol. However, it’s important to note that Pravachol doesn’t take the place of a healthy diet.

People with high cholesterol or heart disease (or who are at risk for heart disease) should follow a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat.

Dietary guidelines from the American Heart Association for managing cholesterol and lowering your risk for heart disease include:

  • eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, fiber, and whole grains
  • eating less saturated fat, meat, and solid fats (such as butter)

As with other statin drugs, Pravachol may not work as well if you don’t follow a heart-healthy diet during your treatment. If you have questions about following a healthy diet while taking Pravachol, talk with your doctor.

Can I take Pravachol if I have liver problems?

Pravachol shouldn’t be used if you currently have liver problems. This is because the drug can cause damage to your liver.

If you have a history of any of the following conditions, your doctor may use a lower dose of Pravachol. They may also consider using a different medication to treat your condition.

Before taking Pravachol, talk with your doctor about your complete medical history, including any history of liver problems. Your doctor will use this information to determine the best treatment for your condition.

Will I need to have any lab tests done while I’m taking Pravachol?

It’s likely that your doctor will order lab tests during your Pravachol treatment.

Specifically, your doctor will likely check your cholesterol levels and your levels of liver enzymes before you begin taking Pravachol. You’ll probably also have these levels checked regularly during your treatment.

A liver enzyme test can help your doctor determine if Pravachol is causing liver damage, a rare side effect of the drug. Testing your cholesterol levels helps your doctor determine how well the drug is working.

Your doctor may order a liver enzyme test if you experience any of the following:

  • fatigue (lack of energy)
  • loss of appetite
  • pain in your right upper abdomen (belly)
  • urine that’s darker than usual
  • jaundice (yellowing of your skin or whites of your eyes)

If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.

Is it safe for older people to take Pravachol?

Yes, Pravachol is generally considered safe for older adults to use. Clinical studies of Pravachol included people ages 65 and older. The results didn’t show any differences in how well the drug worked in older adults.

However, people ages 65 years and older may have a higher risk for muscle weakness while taking Pravachol. For this reason, your doctor may take extra precautions before prescribing Pravachol if you’re over age 65. They may also decide to try a different medication to treat your condition.

If you have questions about whether Pravachol is safe for you to take based on your age, talk with your doctor.

You should take Pravachol according to your doctor or healthcare provider’s instructions.

Pravachol comes as tablets that you take by mouth.

When to take

Typically, Pravachol is taken once per day. There isn’t one best time to take Pravachol. You can take your dose at any time of day. However, taking Pravachol at the same time every day may help you remember to take your dose.

To help make sure you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm on your phone or downloading a reminder app. A kitchen timer can work, too.

Taking Pravachol with food

You can take Pravachol with or without food.

Can Pravachol be crushed, split, or chewed?

The manufacturer of Pravachol hasn’t stated whether the tablets can be crushed, split, or chewed. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have trouble swallowing Pravachol tablets.

Pravachol is FDA-approved for use with a healthy diet to help:

* “Cardiovascular” refers to your heart and blood vessels. Examples of cardiovascular disease include stroke and heart attack.

About cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of lipid. Lipids are fat-like substances naturally made by your liver.

Cholesterol itself isn’t a harmful substance. It’s actually essential for your body to work properly. For example, your body wouldn’t be able to make vitamin D without cholesterol. Cholesterol can also be found in foods such as eggs, cheese, and meat.

Cholesterol is measured in several ways. Total cholesterol is the overall amount of cholesterol found in your blood. Total cholesterol consists of:

  • low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), sometimes referred to as “bad cholesterol”
  • high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), sometimes referred to as “good cholesterol”
  • triglycerides, fats that are building blocks of cholesterol

What Pravachol does

Pravachol works by affecting the way your body makes cholesterol. Specifically, the drug blocks an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase. An enzyme is a protein your body makes to help speed up reactions (such as making cholesterol.)

HMG-CoA is one of the most important enzymes for making cholesterol. Blocking this enzyme means your body can’t make as much cholesterol. This lowers the amount of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in your blood. Pravachol also increases HDL levels (“good cholesterol”) in your blood.

How long does it take to work?

Pravachol begins working as soon as you take your dose. It reaches its highest levels in your body about 60 to 90 minutes after you take your dose. However, because of how the drug works, you likely won’t feel Pravachol working to treat your condition.

Some people may have a drop in their cholesterol as early as 1 week after starting Pravachol. Your doctor should be able to tell within 4 weeks of starting treatment whether Pravachol is working for you.

You shouldn’t take Pravachol while pregnant. This is because studies have shown that statin drugs such as Pravachol can cause birth defects if used during pregnancy.

If you become pregnant while taking Pravachol, stop taking the medication right away and call your doctor.

It’s not safe to take Pravachol during pregnancy. If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re using Pravachol.

For more information about taking Pravachol during pregnancy, see the “Pravachol and pregnancy” section above.

You shouldn’t take Pravachol while breastfeeding.

One study showed that Pravachol passes into breast milk. It’s not known what effect, if any, this could have on a breastfed child. However, Pravachol could cause serious side effects in a breastfed child.

If you have questions about treating your condition while breastfeeding, talk with your doctor.

Before taking Pravachol, talk with your doctor about your health history. Pravachol may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:

  • Having a higher risk for muscle pain or weakness. Pravachol may cause muscle pain or weakness. Some people have a higher risk for this side effect because of certain factors, such as being age 65 years or older. Having kidney problems or untreated low levels of thyroid hormones may also raise your risk for muscle pain and weakness from Pravachol. If you have concerns about your risk for muscle pain or weakness, talk with your doctor before taking Pravachol.
  • Liver disease. You shouldn’t take Pravachol if you currently have liver disease. This is because Pravachol can damage your liver. And if you’ve had liver disease in the past, you may have a higher risk for liver damage while taking Pravachol. Before using Pravachol, tell your doctor if you currently have liver disease or have had it in the past.
  • Excessive alcohol use. Consistently drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause liver damage. Liver damage is also a possible side effect of Pravachol. Therefore, drinking too much during your Pravachol treatment could raise your risk for liver problems. Before taking Pravachol, talk with your doctor if you have a history of excessive alcohol use.
  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Pravachol or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t take Pravachol. Ask your doctor about other medications that may be better options for you.
  • Pregnancy. It isn’t safe to use Pravachol while pregnant. For more information, see the “Pravachol and pregnancy” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. You shouldn’t take Pravachol while breastfeeding. For more information, see the “Pravachol and breastfeeding” section above.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Pravachol, see the “Pravachol side effects” section above.

Do not use more Pravachol than your doctor recommends. For some drugs, doing so may lead to unwanted side effects or overdose.

What to do in case you take too much Pravachol

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use their online tool. But if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

When you get Pravachol from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on the bottle. This date is typically 1 year from the date they dispensed the medication.

The expiration date helps guarantee that the medication is effective during this time. The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid using expired medications. If you have unused medication that has gone past the expiration date, talk to your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to use it.

Storage

How long a medication remains good can depend on many factors, including how and where you store the medication.

Pravachol tablets should be stored at room temperature (77°F or 25°C) in a tightly sealed container away from light. For short periods of time, such as when traveling, you may temporarily store Pravachol tablets at temperatures of 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C). However, you should return the medication to room temperature as soon as you can. Avoid storing this medication in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as bathrooms.

Disposal

If you no longer need to take Pravachol and have leftover medication, it’s important to dispose of it safely. This helps prevent others, including children and pets, from taking the drug by accident. It also helps keep the drug from harming the environment.

This article provides several useful tips on medication disposal. You can also ask your pharmacist for information about how to dispose of your medication.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.