Lipitor (Atorvastatin) vs Crestor (Rosuvastatin)

Let’s compare the effectiveness, side effects and costs of Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Crestor (rosuvastatin). Both drugs are “statins”; they are meant to prevent heart disease, stroke and death by lowering LDL (“bad” cholesterol), increasing HDL (“good” cholesterol) and lowering triglycerides.

Crestor is more potent than Lipitor. Advantage? Crestor requires a lower dose to be effective. Disadvantage? Crestor may be more likely to cause side effects.

Lipitor vs Crestor: Effectiveness

Neither Lipitor (atorvastatin) nor Crestor will add years to your life if you haven’t experienced a heart attack or stroke before. Both can, however, prevent your first non-fatal heart attack or stroke. Crestor has been shown to prevent heart attacks in patients who have low cholesterol but high hs-CRP (hs-CRP is an indicator of inflammation; you can request a hs-CRP blood test from your doctor).

If you’ve had a heart attack or stroke before, Lipitor can add years to your life; that is, it does prevent death. Although Crestor has not been proven to do the same, consensus is that it can also prevent death in patients who have had a heart attack or stroke before.

Lipitor vs Crestor: Side Effects

A common side effect of both drugs is muscle pain. If you experience muscle pain with either drug, simply switch to another statin. Alternatively, you can try a lower dose (as long as your cholesterol remains under control). If you experience tolerable muscle pain, consider taking co-enzyme Q10 supplements; 50mg four times daily may reduce your pain. In our opinion, co-enzyme Q10 does not work for preventing muscle pain.

Rhabdomyolysis (aka “rhabdo”) is a more serious muscle-related side effect; it’s characterized by severe muscle pain and severe soreness. Rhabdo can cause kidney disease.

Whether Lipitor is more or less likely to cause muscle-related side effects is unknown. We do know that Lipitor is more likely than Crestor to travel into your muscles. Lipitor has more drug interactions; drug interactions increase a statins potential to cause side effects. But, Crestor is more potent and stays in your body longer.

Drugs like Lipitor and Crestor may also increase your blood sugar (learn how to prevent high blood sugar) and cause memory problems.

Lipitor vs Crestor: Costs

Both drugs are available as low-cost generics now.

Works Cited

Paul M Ridker, M.D., Eleanor Danielson, M.I.A., Francisco A.H. Fonseca, M.D., Jacques Genest, M.D., Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., M.D., John J.P. Kastelein, M.D. et al for the JUPITER Study Group. Rosuvastatin to Prevent Vascular Events in Men and Women with Elevated C-Reactive Protein. N Engl J Med 2008; 359:2195-2207 November 20, 2008

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  1. v krishnaswami says:

    What are the other side effects of using Crestor (rosuvastatin) 10 mg regularly? Does it pave a way for kidney disease?

  2. Frank says:

    Taking crestor now. Dr. said I have to stop taking my antidepression medication with crestor because of liver damage. There is a noticible difference (more depression). Is there an antidepression med that I can take together with creator?

    • I don’t know, Frank, but you can take a micro-dose of Crestor and get most of the benefit. If you’re good with a pill splitter, you can take 1/16 of a Crestor tablet and get about 75% of the effectiveness, with drastically reduce chance of side-effects. Ask your doc!

  3. vivian dyckman says:

    How common is the side effect of hair loss (in women) with either Lipitor or Crestor?

  4. Contrary to what this article says, there is no generic rosuvastatin (Crestor) available. The patent doesn’t run out until 2020.

  5. You say, “Both drugs are available as low-cost generics now.” But that is incorrect. Lipitor (atorvastatin) is available as a generic, but Crestor (rosuvastatin) has patent protection until May, 2016.


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