Pharmacotherapeutic group: Lipid modifying agents, HMG-CoA-reductase inhibitors, ATC code: C10AA05Atorvastatin is a selective, competitive inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme responsible for the conversion of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A to mevalonate, a precursor of sterols, including cholesterol. Triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver are incorporated into very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and released into the plasma for delivery to peripheral tissues. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is formed from VLDL and is catabolized primarily through the receptor with high affinity to LDL (LDL receptor).Atorvastatin lowers plasma cholesterol and lipoprotein serum concentrations by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase and subsequently cholesterol biosynthesis in the liver and increases the number of hepatic LDL receptors on the cell surface for enhanced uptake and catabolism of LDL.Atorvastatin reduces LDL production and the number of LDL particles. Atorvastatin produces a profound and sustained increase in LDL receptor activity coupled with a beneficial change in the quality of circulating LDL particles. Atorvastatin is effective in reducing LDL-C in patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia, a population that has not usually responded to lipid-lowering medicinal products.Atorvastatin has been shown to reduce concentrations of total-C (30% - 46%), LDL-C (41% - 61%), apolipoprotein B (34% - 50%), and triglycerides (14% - 33%) while producing variable increases in HDL-C and apolipoprotein A1 in a dose response study. These results are consistent in patients with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia, nonfamilial forms of hypercholesterolaemia, and mixed hyperlipidaemia, including patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.Reductions in total-C, LDL-C, and apolipoprotein B have been proven to reduce risk for cardiovascular events and cardiovascular mortality.
Homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia
In a multicenter 8 week open-label compassionate-use study with an optional extension phase of variable length, 335 patients were enrolled, 89 of which were identified as homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia patients. From these 89 patients, the mean percent reduction in LDL-C was approximately 20%. Atorvastatin was administered at doses up to 80 mg/day.
In the Reversing Atherosclerosis with Aggressive Lipid- Lowering Study (REVERSAL), the effect of intensive lipid lowering with atorvastatin 80 mg and standard degree of lipid lowering with pravastatin 40 mg on coronary atherosclerosis was assessed by intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), during angiography, in patients with coronary heart disease. In this randomised, double- blind, multicenter, controlled clinical trial, IVUS was performed at baseline and at 18 months in 502 patients. In the atorvastatin group (n=253), there was no progression of atherosclerosis.The median percent change, from baseline, in total atheroma volume (the primary study criteria) was -0.4% (p=0.98) in the atorvastatin group and +2.7% (p=0.001) in the pravastatin group (n=249). When compared to pravastatin the effects of atorvastatin were statistically significant (p=0.02). The effect of intensive lipid lowering on cardiovascular endpoints (e. g. need for revascularisation, non fatal myocardial infarction, coronary death) was not investigated in this study.In the atorvastatin group, LDL-C was reduced to a mean of 2.04 mmol/L ± 0.8 (78.9 mg/dl ± 30) from baseline 3.89 mmol/L ± 0.7 (150 mg/dl ± 28) and in the pravastatin group, LDL-C was reduced to a mean of 2.85 mmol/L ± 0.7 (110 mg/dl ± 26) from baseline 3.89 mmol/L ± 0.7 (150 mg/dl ± 26) (p<0.0001). Atorvastatin also significantly reduced mean TC by 34.1% (pravastatin: -18.4%, p<0.0001), mean TG levels by 20% (pravastatin: -6.8%, p<0.0009), and mean apolipoprotein B by 39.1% (pravastatin: -22.0%, p<0.0001). Atorvastatin increased mean HDL-C by 2.9% (pravastatin: +5.6%, p=NS). There was a 36.4% mean reduction in CRP in the atorvastatin group compared to a 5.2% reduction in the pravastatin group (p<0.0001). Study results were obtained with the 80 mg dose strength. Therefore, they cannot be extrapolated to the lower dose strengths.The safety and tolerability profiles of the two treatment groups were comparable.The effect of intensive lipid lowering on major cardiovascular endpoints was not investigated in this study. Therefore, the clinical significance of these imaging results with regard to the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular events is unknown.
Acute coronary syndrome
In the MIRACL study, atorvastatin 80 mg has been evaluated in 3,086 patients (atorvastatin n=1,538; placebo n=1,548) with an acute coronary syndrome (non Q-wave MI or unstable angina). Treatment was initiated during the acute phase after hospital admission and lasted for a period of 16 weeks. Treatment with atorvastatin 80 mg/day increased the time to occurrence of the combined primary endpoint, defined as death from any cause, nonfatal MI, resuscitated cardiac arrest, or angina pectoris with evidence of myocardial ischaemia requiring hospitalization, indicating a risk reduction by 16% (p=0.048). This was mainly due to a 26% reduction in re-hospitalisation for angina pectoris with evidence of myocardial ischaemia (p=0.018). The other secondary endpoints did not reach statistical significance on their own (overall: Placebo: 22.2%, Atorvastatin: 22.4%). The safety profile of atorvastatin in the MIRACL study was consistent with what is described in section 4.8.
Prevention of cardiovascular disease
The effect of atorvastatin on fatal and non-fatal coronary heart disease was assessed in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial Lipid Lowering Arm (ASCOT-LLA). Patients were hypertensive, 40-79 years of age, with no previous myocardial infarction or treatment for angina, and with TC levels ≤6.5 mmol/L (251 mg/dl). All patients had at least 3 of the pre-defined cardiovascular risk factors: male gender, age ≥55 years, smoking, diabetes, history of CHD in a first-degree relative, TC:HDL-C >6, peripheral vascular disease, left ventricular hypertrophy, prior cerebrovascular event, specific ECG abnormality, proteinuria/albuminuria. Not all included patients were estimated to have a high risk for a first cardiovascular event.Patients were treated with anti-hypertensive therapy (either amlodipine or atenolol-based regimen) and either atorvastatin 10 mg daily (n=5,168) or placebo (n=5,137). The absolute and relative risk reduction effect of atorvastatin was as follows:
1Based on difference in crude events rates occurring over a median follow-up of 3.3 years.CHD = coronary heart disease; MI = myocardial infarction.Total mortality and cardiovascular mortality were not significantly reduced (185 vs. 212 events, p=0.17 and 74 vs. 82 events, p=0.51). In the subgroup analyses by gender (81% males, 19% females), a beneficial effect of atorvastatin was seen in males but could not be established in females possibly due to the low event rate in the female subgroup. Overall and cardiovascular mortality were numerically higher in the female patients (38 vs. 30 and 17 vs. 12), but this was not statistically significant. There was significant treatment interaction by antihypertensive baseline therapy. The primary endpoint (fatal CHD plus non-fatal MI) was significantly reduced by atorvastatin in patients treated with amlodipine (HR 0.47 (0.32-0.69), p=0.00008), but not in those treated with atenolol (HR 0.83 (0.59-1.17), p=0.287).The effect of atorvastatin on fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease was also assessed in a randomized, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled trial, the Collaborative Atorvastatin Diabetes Study (CARDS) in patients with type 2 diabetes, 40-75 years of age, without prior history of cardiovascular disease, and with LDL-C ≤4.14 mmol/L (160 mg/dl) and TG ≤6.78 mmol/L (600 mg/dl). All patients had at least 1 of the following risk factors: hypertension, current smoking, retinopathy, microalbuminuria or macroalbuminuria.Patients were treated with either atorvastatin 10 mg daily (n=1,428) or placebo (n=1,410) for a median follow-up of 3.9 years.The absolute and relative risk reduction effect of atorvastatin was as follows:
|| Relative Risk Reduction (%)
|| No. of Events (Atorvastatin vs Placebo)
|| Absolute Risk Reduction1 (%)
| Fatal CHD plus non-fatal MI
|| 100 vs. 154
| Total cardiovascular events and revascularization procedures
|| 389 vs. 483
| Total coronary events
|| 178 vs 247
1Based on difference in crude events rates occurring over a median follow-up of 3.9 years.AMI = acute myocardial infarction; CABG = coronary artery bypass graft; CHD = coronary heart disease; MI = myocardial infarction; PTCA = percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty.There was no evidence of a difference in the treatment effect by patient's gender, age, or baseline LDL-C level. A favourable trend was observed regarding the mortality rate (82 deaths in the placebo group vs. 61 deaths in the atorvastatin group, p=0.0592).
|| Relative Risk Reduction (%)
|| No. of Events (Atorvastatin vs Placebo)
|| Absolute Risk Reduction1 (%)
| Major cardiovascular events
(fatal and non-fatal AMI, silent MI, acute CHD death, unstable angina, CABG, PTCA, revascularization, stroke)
|| 83 vs. 127
| MI (fatal and non-fatal AMI, silent MI)
|| 38 vs 64
| Strokes (Fatal and non-fatal)
|| 21 vs. 39
In the Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL) study, the effect of atorvastatin 80 mg daily or placebo on stroke was evaluated in 4731 patients who had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) within the preceding 6 months and no history of coronary heart disease (CHD). Patients were 60% male, 21-92 years of age (average age 63 years), and had an average baseline LDL of 133 mg/dL (3.4 mmol/L). The mean LDL-C was 73 mg/dL (1.9 mmol/L) during treatment with atorvastatin and 129 mg/dL (3.3 mmol/L) during treatment with placebo. Median follow-up was 4.9 years.Atorvastatin 80 mg reduced the risk of the primary endpoint of fatal or non-fatal stroke by 15% (HR 0.85; 95% CI, 0.72-1.00; p=0.05 or 0.84; 95% CI, 0.71-0.99; p=0.03 after adjustment for baseline factors) compared to placebo. All cause mortality was 9.1% (216/2365) for atorvastatin versus 8.9% (211/2366) for placebo.In a post-hoc analysis, atorvastatin 80 mg reduced the incidence of ischemic stroke (218/2365, 9.2% vs. 274/2366, 11.6%, p=0.01) and increased the incidence of hemorrhagic stroke (55/2365, 2.3% vs. 33/2366, 1.4%, p=0.02) compared to placebo.• The risk of hemorrhagic stroke was increased in patients who entered the study with prior hemorrhagic stroke (7/45 for atorvastatin versus 2/48 for placebo; HR 4.06; 95% CI, 0.84-19.57), and the risk of ischemic stroke was similar between groups (3/45 for atorvastatin versus 2/48 for placebo; HR 1.64; 95% CI, 0.27-9.82).• The risk of hemorrhagic stroke was increased in patients who entered the study with prior lacunar infarct (20/708 for atorvastatin versus 4/701 for placebo; HR 4.99; 95% CI, 1.71-14.61), but the risk of ischemic stroke was also decreased in these patients (79/708 for atorvastatin versus 102/701 for placebo; HR 0.76; 95% CI, 0.57-1.02). It is possible that the net risk of stroke is increased in patients with prior lacunar infarct who receive atorvastatin 80 mg/day.All cause mortality was 15.6% (7/45) for atorvastatin versus 10.4% (5/48) in the subgroup of patients with prior hemorrhagic stroke. All cause mortality was 10.9% (77/708) for atorvastatin versus 9.1% (64/701) for placebo in the subgroup of patients with prior lacunar infarct.
Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolaemia in Paediatric Patients aged 6-17 years old
An 8-week, open-label study to evaluate pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and safety and tolerability of atorvastatin was conducted in children and adolescents with genetically confirmed heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia and baseline LDL-C ≥4 mmol/L. A total of 39 children and adolescents, 6 to 17 years of age, were enrolled. Cohort A included 15 children, 6 to 12 years of age and at Tanner Stage 1. Cohort B included 24 children, 10 to 17 years of age and at Tanner Stage ≥2. The initial dose of atorvastatin was 5 mg daily of a chewable tablet in Cohort A and 10 mg daily of a tablet formulation in Cohort B. The atorvastatin dose was permitted to be doubled if a subject had not attained target LDL-C of <3.35 mmol/L at Week 4 and if atorvastatin was well tolerated. Mean values for LDL-C, TC, VLDL-C, and Apo B decreased by Week 2 among all subjects. For subjects whose dose was doubled, additional decreases were observed as early as 2 weeks, at the first assessment, after dose escalation. The mean percent decreases in lipid parameters were similar for both cohorts, regardless of whether subjects remained at their initial dose or doubled their initial dose. At Week 8, on average, the percent change from baseline in LDL-C and TC was approximately 40% and 30%, respectively, over the range of exposures.
Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolaemia in Paediatric Patients aged 10-17 years old
In a double-blind, placebo controlled study followed by an open-label phase, 187 boys and postmenarchal girls 10-17 years of age (mean age 14.1 years) with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH) or severe hypercholesterolaemia were randomised to atorvastatin (n=140) or placebo (n=47) for 26 weeks and then all received atorvastatin for 26 weeks. The dosage of atorvastatin (once daily) was 10 mg for the first 4 weeks and up-titrated to 20 mg if the LDL-C level was >3.36 mmol/L. Atorvastatin significantly decreased plasma levels of total-C, LDL-C, triglycerides, and apolipoprotein B during the 26 week double-blind phase. The mean achieved LDL-C value was 3.38 mmol/L (range: 1.81-6.26 mmol/l) in the atorvastatin group compared to 5.91 mmol/L (range: 3.93-9.96 mmol/L) in the placebo group during the 26-week double-blind phase.An additional paediatric study of atorvastatin versus colestipol in patients with hypercholesterolaemia aged 10-18 years demonstrated that atorvastatin (N=25) caused a significant reduction in LDL-C at week 26 (p<0.05) compared with colestipol (N=31). A compassionate use study in patients with severe hypercholesterolaemia (including homozygous hypercholesterolaemia) included 46 paediatric patients treated with atorvastatin titrated according to response (some subjects received 80 mg atorvastatin per day). The study lasted 3 years: LDL-cholesterol was lowered by 36%.The long-term efficacy of atorvastatin therapy in childhood to reduce morbidity and mortality in adulthood has not been established. The European Medicines Agency has waived the obligation to submit the results of studies with atorvastatin in children aged 0 to less than 6 years in the treatment of heterozygous hypercholesterolaemia and in children aged 0 to less than 18 years in the treatment of homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia, combined (mixed) hypercholesterolaemia, primary hypercholesterolaemia and in the prevention of cardiovascular events (see section 4.2 for information on paediatric use).