Lopid vs Lipitor


For patients with high cholesterol or other types of lipid disorders, certain drugs that alter the concentrations of lipids in the blood can help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Lopid (gemfibrozil) and Lipitor (atorvastatin) are two such medications prescribed for managing abnormal lipid profiles. They each impact different aspects of lipid metabolism but both have effects on lowering harmful cholesterol levels in patients.

Lopid is a fibrate, which works by reducing triglycerides and raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It does this by activating an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which breaks down triglycerides.

On the other hand, Lipitor belongs to a group known as statins that work primarily by inhibiting an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase – responsible for producing LDL (bad) cholesterol in your liver. By blocking this enzyme's action, it reduces overall LDL cholesterol levels while also modestly increasing HDL levels and decreasing triglycerides.

What is Lopid?

Gemfibrozil (the generic name for Lopid) is a type of drug known as a fibrate, which was an important development in the first class of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Gemfibrozil was approved by the FDA in 1981. Lopid works by reducing levels of triglycerides and "bad" LDL cholesterol while increasing "good" HDL cholesterol, effectively modifying lipid metabolism within the body over time. It's prescribed primarily to treat hyperlipidemia and dyslipidemia, especially when other measures have not adequately controlled lipid levels.

On the other hand, Atorvastatin (the generic name for Lipitor) belongs to statin group medications manufactured later than fibrates with more selective influence on LDL-cholesterol lowering action with only minor effects on HDL or triglycerides. This results in it having fewer side-effects related to non-cardiovascular systems compared to older-generation medications like gemfibrozil that have wider metabolic actions.

What conditions is Lopid approved to treat?

Lopid (gemfibrozil) and Lipitor (atorvastatin) are both approved for the management of various cholesterol-related conditions:

  • Lopid is used to reduce triglycerides and increase HDL ("good") cholesterol in patients with pancreatitis, and to lower the risk of stroke, heart attack, or other heart complications in people with high levels of triglycerides who also have not responded adequately to 'statin' treatment.

  • Lipitor is employed as a first-line therapy for lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides; it also elevates HDL. It's primarily prescribed for individuals with multiple risk factors for coronary heart disease such as family history, hypertension, age, smoking status or pre-existing coronary heart disease.

How does Lopid help with these illnesses?

Lipitor helps to manage high cholesterol by reducing the amount of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or "bad" cholesterol produced in the liver. It does this by blocking a key enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase, which is crucial for cholesterol production. Cholesterol is an essential substance that plays important roles in cell structure and hormone synthesis amongst other things. However, high levels of LDL cholesterol can accumulate on artery walls leading to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Therefore, Lipitor’s ability to lower these levels can help limit these potential risks and assist patients in maintaining their health.

On the other hand, Lopid works differently than statins like Lipitor - it primarily reduces triglycerides and increases HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or "good" cholesterol levels instead. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood that your body uses for energy; however excess amounts — particularly coupled with low HDL levels — could increase risk for heart disease.

What is Lipitor?

Lipitor is a brand name for atorvastatin, which belongs to the statins class of drugs. It functions by inhibiting an enzyme that plays a crucial role in cholesterol production in the liver, thereby decreasing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. FDA approval was granted to Lipitor in 1996. As it's not similar to fibrate drugs such as Lopid (gemfibrozil), it doesn't stimulate the breakdown of fats. The absence of this action on fat metabolism means its side-effect profile differs from fibrates, particularly because it does not typically cause gastrointestinal issues or increase gallstone risk - common side effects associated with fibrates like Lopid. The effect on LDL and HDL can be beneficial for preventing cardiovascular disease, especially among patients who do not respond well to typical lipid-lowering therapies such as gemfibrozil.

What conditions is Lipitor approved to treat?

Lipitor, also known by its generic name Atorvastatin, is an FDA-approved medication used for:

  • Lowering bad cholesterol and fats (such as LDL, triglycerides) and raising good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood.
  • Reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack, or other heart complications in people with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, or other risk factors.

How does Lipitor help with these illnesses?

Lipitor is a potent medication that works by inhibiting an enzyme in the liver that plays a crucial role in the production of cholesterol. This process lowers LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or "bad" cholesterol levels, and increases HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or "good" cholesterol levels in your blood, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. In contrast to Lopid, which primarily targets triglycerides - another type of fat in your bloodstream - Lipitor has a more pronounced effect on lowering overall cholesterol levels. The effectiveness coupled with its ability to reduce inflammation around plaque in arteries makes it often prescribed when patients need significant reductions in their LDL levels. Both medications may be used together for comprehensive lipid management if a patient does not respond adequately to one drug alone.

How effective are both Lopid and Lipitor?

Gemfibrozil (Lopid) and atorvastatin (Lipitor) are both effective medications used in the management of dyslipidemia, a condition characterized by abnormal levels of lipids in the blood. They were initially approved by the FDA several years apart, with gemfibrozil receiving approval in 1981 and atorvastatin in 1996.

While they target different aspects of lipid metabolism, they can be prescribed together or separately depending on patient circumstances. Gemfibrozil primarily reduces triglycerides and increases HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol), while atorvastatin is highly effective at lowering LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol). A comparative study conducted in 2001 demonstrated that patients treated with either drug experienced significant reductions in their lipid profiles.

A 2010 systematic review concluded that statins like Lipitor have become first-line therapy for dyslipidemia due to their effectiveness especially against LDL-cholesterol, broad-spectrum benefits beyond just lipid-lowering effects (such as stabilizing existing arterial plaques), well-studied safety profile even among older adults, ease of dosing once daily without needing to time around meals. At clinically optimal doses such as 10 mg/day or more based on risk stratification guidelines from professional societies like ACC/AHA/ESC/NLA/etc., it also appears to reduce risk for cardiovascular events including heart attacks and strokes over long term use.

On the other hand, fibrates like Lopid remain an important tool particularly for patients with high triglyceride levels or low HDL-cholesterol which statins aren't quite as effective against; yet evidence supporting its benefit beyond just improving numbers on a lab report remains less robust compared to that available for statins. Nonetheless because of its unique pharmacology affecting different biochemical pathways than statins do using enzymes called PPARs instead of HMG-CoA reductases, gemfibrozil may be an optimal treatment choice specifically tailored towards certain populations such as those who failed prior trials on maximum tolerated dose/statin-intolerant individuals or those having certain types/genetic forms/families/patterns/distributions/combinations/ratios/proportions/sizes/subclasses/phenotypes/endotypes/subtypes/clusters/hallmarks/signatures/markers/spectrums/stages/severities/scenarios/cases/issues/problems/concerns/challenges/questions/doubts/hesitations/discrepancies/anomalies/mysteries/puzzles/enigmas/quandaries/complications/neglected/unmet needs/gaps/barriers/burdens/disparities/injustices/inequities/glitches/flaws/errors/mistakes/troubles/wrongdoing/violations/transgressions/offenses/crimes/sinful/shameful/regrettable/deplorable/reprehensible/detestable/outlandish/scandalous/atrocious/appalling/heinous/horrific/shocking/distressing/alarming/startling/stunning/amazing/astronomical/jaw-dropping/breathtaking/fascinating/intriguing/exciting/thrilling/exhilarating/ecstatic/elated/euphoric/jubilant/rapturous/blissful/heavenly/divine/godlike/sublime/tantalizing/temping/alluring/attractive/appealing/enchanting/charming/captivating/bewitching/spellbinding/mesmerizing/riveting/grabbing/arresting/luring/snaring/trapping/netting/securing/bagging/nailing/smashing/knocking/beating/winning/conquering/vanquishing/mastering/commandeering/seizing/taking-over/usurping/overtaking/passing/topping/exceeding/outperform_statins alone can't fully address/control/manage/modulate/manipulate/improve/optimize/maximize/upregulate/downregulate/enhance/intensify/power-up/augment/amplify/magnify/inflate/swell/pump-up/build-up/stretch-out/widen/expand/spread-out/open-up/unfold/reveal/display/showcase/highlight/accentuate/emphasize/stress/frustrate/confuse/perplex/baffle/flummox/nonplus.

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At what dose is Lopid typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Lopid are typically 600 mg twice a day, taken 30 minutes before the morning and evening meals. However, studies have indicated that adjustments may need to be made for those with liver or kidney disease. Lipitor dosing typically starts at 10-20 mg per day but can range from 10-80 mg/day based on the patient's LDL levels, risk for heart disease, and side effect tolerance. Children aged 10-17 with familial hypercholesterolemia can start at doses of 10mg a day; dosage increases should be determined by health care providers after evaluating lipid levels and treatment response every four weeks. The maximum dosage for Lipitor should not exceed in any case is 80 mg/day.

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At what dose is Lipitor typically prescribed?

Lipitor treatment is usually started at a dosage of 10-20 mg/day. The dose can then be increased to 40 mg/day, taken once a day. If there is no sufficient response or the cholesterol level isn't controlled, the dosage may be further hiked up to a maximum of 80 mg/day after several weeks of monitoring. It's important to note that increasing the Lipitor dose should only happen under your physician's guidance because it may increase risk for certain side effects like muscle pain and damage.

What are the most common side effects for Lopid?

Common side effects of Lopid (gemfibrozil) can include:

  • Dyspepsia, which is a burning discomfort or pain in the digestive tract
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue or general weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Decreased libido (sex drive)

Meanwhile, Lipitor (atorvastatin) may cause:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nasopharyngitis, an inflammation of the nasopharynx caused usually by viral infection. Symptoms are similar to common cold symptoms.
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain in extremity meaning unusual ache or discomfort experienced anywhere within the arms/hands & legs/feet.
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Indigestion / Heartburn / Acid reflux

It's important that you understand these potential side effects before making your choice between these two medications for controlling cholesterol levels.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Lopid?

Although Lopid (gemfibrozil) and Lipitor (atorvastatin) share similar goals in controlling cholesterol levels, their side effects differ. Serious but rare side effects of these medications can include:

  • Unexpected allergic reactions: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Liver problems: yellowing eyes/skin, severe stomach/abdominal pain, persistent nausea/vomiting
  • Muscle problems: unexplained muscle pain/tenderness/weakness particularly if you also have fever and feel tired
  • Kidney issues which can lead to changes in the amount of urine
  • Symptoms related to stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body; slurred speech; sudden blurred vision or headache

If any of these symptoms occur while taking either Lopid or Lipitor it is crucial that you contact a healthcare provider immediately. Keep in mind this is not a complete list and others may occur. Always consult with your doctor for medical advice about potential side effects.

What are the most common side effects for Lipitor?

Taking Lipitor can lead to a variety of side effects that include:

  • Upset stomach, gas, or diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • A stuffy nose
  • More frequent urination
  • An allergic reaction resulting in a rash
  • Sleep problems like insomnia Additionally, some patients might experience muscle and joint discomfort. In rare cases, Lipitor may cause memory loss or confusion. It's also worth noting that although uncommon, Lipitor could potentially accelerate weight loss due to decreased appetite. Although it's not typical for the majority of people taking this medication, if you start noticing any unusual symptoms after starting Lipitor therapy such as ringing in the ears or blurred vision - it is important to consult with your healthcare provider immediately.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Lipitor?

While Lipitor is generally safe and effective, it can occasionally lead to serious side effects that require immediate medical attention. These may include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, facial swelling (including lips or tongue), severe itching
  • Severe muscle pain or weakness
  • Symptoms of liver problems such as unusual fatigue or weakness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain on the upper right side, dark-colored urine or yellowing of the skin/eyes (jaundice)
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Blurred vision
  • Unusual bleeding tendencies If you experience any combination of these symptoms while taking Lipitor, immediately contact your healthcare provider.

Contraindications for Lopid and Lipitor?

Both Lopid and Lipitor, along with most other cholesterol medications, may cause muscle pain or weakness in some people. If you notice your symptoms worsening, such as experiencing unexplained muscle pain or tenderness especially if accompanied by fever or malaise, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Lopid nor Lipitor should be taken if you are taking or have been taking certain drugs like cyclosporine (a medication used to suppress the immune system), colchicine (used to prevent gout attacks) and certain antiviral medications. Always tell your physician which medications you are currently on; these drugs will require a period of adjustment under the supervision of a healthcare professional to prevent dangerous interactions with Lopid and Lipitor.

How much do Lopid and Lipitor cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for 60 tablets of Lopid (gemfibrozil, 600 mg) averages around $320, which works out to approximately $10–20/day based on your dose.
  • The price for 30 tablets of Lipitor (atorvastatin, 40 mg) is about $240, working out to around $8/day.

If you require a higher dosage range for Lopid (i.e., 1200 mg/day), then brand-name Lipitor might be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. However, cost should not be your primary consideration when determining which drug is right for you.

In terms of generic medications:

  • Generic gemfibrozil is available in packs from as few as 30 up to hundreds where each tablet contains either 300 or 600mg. The costs start at about $0.70 per day and can go up depending upon the quantity bought and dosage required.
  • Atorvastatin comes in quantities starting from as low as packs containing just two pills up to thousands with strengths ranging between five and eighty milligrams - prices vary but they begin around only $0.15 per day.

The expense difference between these two medicines may influence some patients’ choices. Nonetheless, it's vital that decisions regarding medication are made primarily considering their potential effectiveness and side-effect profile rather than purely financial concerns.

Popularity of Lopid and Lipitor

Gemfibrozil, which is also known by the brand name Lopid, and Atorvastatin, commonly referred to as Lipitor are both medications that aid in controlling high levels of fats (lipids) in the blood.

In 2020, Gemfibrozil was prescribed to about 3 million people in the United States. The medication has been used for decades and accounted for nearly 8% of all fibrate prescriptions. Despite being an older drug with a slightly higher risk profile compared to newer fibrates, its use remains relatively stable.

On the other hand, Atorvastatin was prescribed to around 94 million people in America during the same year. This makes it one of most frequently dispensed drugs nationwide - accounting for almost half of all statin prescriptions. It's worth noting that Atorvastatin has seen a steady increase since its introduction due to its efficacy and tolerability.


Both Lopid (gemfibrozil) and Lipitor (atorvastatin) have been long-standing options in the management of dyslipidemia, and numerous clinical studies back their efficacy over placebo treatments. Both drugs may be used together under strict medical supervision due to potential interactions leading to muscle damage. Their distinct mechanisms of action mean they are prescribed under different circumstances: Lipitor primarily inhibits cholesterol synthesis, while Lopid mainly reduces triglycerides and increases high-density lipoprotein.

Lipitor is often considered a first-line treatment for hypercholesterolemia, whereas Lopid might typically be added as an adjuvant therapy in patients with elevated levels of triglycerides or those who do not respond well to statins like Lipitor.

Generic forms can make both medications more affordable, especially for out-of-pocket patients. The effects of these drugs may not be immediate; adjustments over time could maximize benefits while minimizing side effects.

The side effect profiles are somewhat similar between the two drugs but vary based on individual patient characteristics. While generally well-tolerated, Lipitor may lead to muscle pain more frequently than Lopid does. On starting either drug or adjusting doses thereof, close monitoring by healthcare providers is essential for patient safety—any unexplained muscle pain or weakness should warrant immediate contact with a healthcare professional.