Important information about Lipitor (atorvastatin)

Please feel free to forward this information to friends.  Lipitor is exceedingly safe and it is by far the most widely prescribed drug in history (tens of millions of patients have taken billions of doses), so there will be many very concerned folks.

Over the holiday weekend, Ranbaxy Laboratories announced a recall for more than 40 lots ("batches") of atorvastatin (generic for Lipitor).  Ranbaxy is only one of six manufacturers of atorvastatin but they account for more than 40% of US sales.  They began a voluntary recall because the listed lots may contain tiny glass particles (less than one millimeter).  As of midafternoon Sunday 11/25/12, there have been no reports of injuries but we certainly agree with the recall and advise our patients on atorvastatin to review their medication.  Fortunately, many of our patients will not be affected.

First, if you are taking brand Lipitor and not generic, there is no concern. Also, if you are taking Watson brand generic atorvastatin, there is no concern.  Watson tablets are manufactured by Pfizer and are not involved in this recall.  Pfizer brand Lipitor tablets (and Watson generic) are white and oblong and the Pfizer and Watson tablets have similar appearance and markings.  The Pfizer brand Lipitor 10 mg tablet has "10" on one side and "PD155" on the other.  The Pfizer brand Lipitor 20 mg tablet has "20" on one side and "PD156" on the other.  The Pfizer brand Lipitor 40 mg tablet has "40" on one side and "PD157" on the other.  The Pfizer brand Lipitor 80 mg tablet has "80" on one side and "PD158" on the other.  

Second, if your tablets are 80 mg strength (regardless of manufacturer), there is no concern.  No lots of this dose were recalled.

Third, if you are taking atorvastatin + amlodipine (generic for Caduet: Lipitor + Norvasc), there is no concern.  None of these tablets (from any manufacturer) were recalled.

Fourth, if your medicine bottle (from the pharmacy) includes manufacturer information, and it is not Ranbaxy Laboratories, there is no concern.  Only Ranbaxy tablets were affected by the recall.

If your medicine bottle does not indicate which manufacturer provided the tablets, you can find this information by looking at the tablets themselves.  Ranbaxy atorvastatin tablets are oblong and white.  The Ranbaxy 10 mg tablets are labeled "RX 12" on one side and unlabeled on the other.  The Ranbaxy 20 mg tablets are labeled "RX 828" on one side and unlabeled on the other.  The Ranbaxy 40 mg tablets are labeled "RX 829" on one side and unlabeled on the other.

If you have tablets from Ranbaxy with the labels above, do not take them. You should contact your pharmacy to see if your tablets are included in the recall.  If they are unable to provide this information, please contact your physician.  For patients followed in our practice, we will arrange to have potentially affected tablets replaced right away.

If your tablets are labeled with any other combination of numbers / letters, they are not being recalled and are safe to take.

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Stay well!

Posted by: Scott W Yates, MD, MBA, MS, FACP

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