Lovastatin and Grapefruit

by on April 23, 2012

Like any other medications, lovastatin is not free of side effects, adverse effects, and unwanted drug and food interactions. If you are prescribed with this drug, make sure that you understand all of these possible risks to your health. Normally, your physician or pharmacist will discuss to you some of the precautions when taking this drug.

Can I take grapefruit with lovastatin?

No. Consuming grapefruit, grapefruit juice and other citrus fruits (tangelos and Seville oranges) is not advised while on lovastatin treatment. Studies show that these highly acidic foods contain certain chemicals that affect the metabolism of lovastatin.

Grapefruit juice, specifically, inhibits the action of a certain compound -- CYP3A4 -- in the small intestine which is essential in breaking down lovastatin. Consuming large amounts of grapefruit juice while taking lovastatin can delay the metabolism of the drug. This leads to the buildup of the drug’s active ingredient, eventually reaching toxic levels in the body.

What happens if you consume grapefruit while on lovastatin treatment?

Once lovastatin reaches toxic levels, it can cause headaches and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Increased blood lovastatin levels can also result in serious side effects that include liver damage and muscle disorder.

Drug-food interactions between grapefruit juice and lovastatin do not happen instantly. In fact, an interaction can happen even after several days of drinking grapefruit juice. This means that even if you consume grapefruit juice early in the day and then take the medication at bedtime, you are still at risk for experiencing side effects.

What can you do to avoid these interactions ?

Obviously, you have to avoid drinking grapefruit juice and other citrus foods while taking lovastatin. Some beverages and dishes actually contain grapefruit, so be sure to read labels. When eating outside, in a restaurant or a fast food, request that your meals be served without grapefruit juice or anything similar.

You can also substitute grapefruit with other fruits and juices. There are a lot of other fruit juices available in the grocery. If you cannot possibly avoid or you simply want to continue consuming grapefruit products, consult your physician for a possible change in medication.

There are other medications that can actually be used in lieu of lovastatin. Some other statins which are not affected by Grapefruit are: Crestor (rosuvastatin), Livalo, and Pravachol (pravastatin).