atorvastatin, Lipitor

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GENERIC NAME: atorvastatin

BRAND NAME: Lipitor

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Atorvastatin is an oral drug that lowers the level of cholesterol in the blood. It belongs to a class of drugs referred to as statins, which includes lovastatin (Mevacor), simvastatin, (Zocor), fluvastatin (Lescol), and pravastatin (Pravachol) and rosuvastatin (Crestor). All statins, including atorvastatin, prevent the production of cholesterol in the liver by blocking HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that makes cholesterol. Statins reduce total cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol in blood. LDL cholesterol is believed to be the "bad" cholesterol that is primarily responsible for the development of coronary artery disease. Reducing LDL cholesterol levels retards progression and may even reverse coronary artery disease. Atorvastatin also raises the concentrations of HDL ("good") cholesterol that protects against coronary artery disease and reduces the concentration of triglycerides in the blood. (High blood concentrations of triglycerides also have been associated with coronary artery disease.) The FDA approved atorvastatin in December 1996.




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