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Zocor vs. Lipitor

Harvard Health Publications
Copyright 2006 Harvard Health Publications


My doctor has prescribed Lipitor. However, my insurance does not cover it. Instead, I have been given Zocor. Is it as good as Lipitor?


Lipitor (also known as atorvastatin) is a member of a group of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as the statins. Other drugs in the group include Zocor (also known as simvastatin), Lescol (also known as fluvastatin), Crestor (also known as rosuvastatin), Pravachol (also known as pravastatin) and Mevacor (also known as lovastatin). All work to reduce blood levels of cholesterol by blocking the action of an enzyme in the liver. All of the statins reduce the amount of bad cholesterol (called LDL cholesterol) and increase the amount of good cholesterol (called HDL cholesterol)

All of the statins reduce blood levels of cholesterol and presumably reduce the risk of heart attack. However, there are some differences. One of the major differences is how well the drugs lower cholesterol, in particular LDL cholesterol, which then affects your cost needed to reach your goal.

Your goal of how low your LDL cholesterol should be depends on your risk. Other factors including family history of coronary heart disease, smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure determine your goal. Most people with low-moderate risk will have an LDL cholesterol goal of 130 to 160 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Others with more risk factors will have a lower LDL cholesterol goal set by their physician. The chart below is for people at high risk who have an LDL cholesterol goal of 100 mg/dL or less. Some doctors are now advocating driving the LDL cholesterol to less than 70 mg/dL.

All costs listed below are for one day's supply of drug, with prices from an online pharmacy. These should only be used as a guide to costs, which can vary. All information on cholesterol lowering came from data supplied by the drug manufacturers.

Drug Cost Comparison Charts

Present LDL-C is 101-125

Drug Name Tablet Strength Cost Per Day
Mevacor 10mg $1.26
Lescol 20mg $1.45
Zocor 5mg $1.52
Pravachol 10mg $2.35
Crestor 5mg $2.35

Present LDL-C is 126-150

Drug Name Tablet Strength Cost Per Day
Lescol 40mg $1.45
Lipitor 10mg $1.82
Pravachol 20mg $2.10
Zocor 10mg $2.10
Crestor 10mg $2.35
Mevacor 20mg $2.11
Mevacor 40mg $3.94

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Harvard Health Publications Source: from the Harvard Health Publications Family Health Guide, Copyright © 2007 by President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.

Used with permission of StayWell.

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