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.
Lipitor vs Crestor: Costs
Both drugs are available as low-cost generics now.
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