Atorvastatin (Lipitor) is currently the second most commonly prescribed drug in the United States. In 2017 alone, there were over 104,774,006 prescriptions. Considering how popular this drug is right now, it pays to know a little bit more about this medication, including how long atorvastatin stays in your system.
Basic Atorvastatin Half-life Information
Mean effective half-life: 14 hours (active metabolites have a half-life of between 20 to 30 hours) Atorvastatin reaches the most desired effectiveness of reducing cholesterol after 2 to 4 weeks of taking the medication.
Time to steady-state: 3 days (average for participants taking 1 or 2 daily doses of 0.5 to 80 mg/day)
Mean accumulation ratio: 1.22 +/- 0.08 (10 mg/kg body weight, orally administered to rats)
Terminal phase half-life: 11.5 hours +/- 4.1 (single 40 mg dose)
According to StatPearl, atorvastatin has a bioavailability of 14%. The enzyme (special protein) CYP3A4 breaks down this medication. Then, the body eliminates this drug and its metabolites (what the body breaks this drug down into) through bile.
How long does it take for atorvastatin to get out of your system?
The half-life of atorvastatin is roughly 14 hours. That means it will take about this long for the body to eliminate half of this substance. However, it takes more than two half-lives (usually 5 to 6) for the body to completely clear this substance. So, it could take up to 77 hours—just over 3 days—for the body to clear this drug (14 x 5.5 = 77).
Atorvastatin reaches the most desired effectiveness of reducing cholesterol after 2 to 4 weeks of taking the medication.
How long does atorvastatin stay in your system?
Atorvastatin is likely detectable in your system for the following time frames:
- Urine: Urine tests would not be an effective way to test for this drug, as the FDA states that “[l]ess than 2% of a dose of LIPITOR is recovered in urine following oral administration”; it is important to note that statins may potentially cause a false-positive result on cannabis-detection urine tests
- Blood/Plasma: Following an oral dose, max plasma concentrations occur within 1 to 2 hours, with an evening dose resulting in lower plasma atorvastatin concentrations than a morning dose
(Numbers above are merely estimates, and may vary based on several factors, such as age and other medical conditions.)
Is it OK to take atorvastatin every other day?
Patients should only use atorvastatin as directed by their prescribing physician. As is the case with many other medications in its drug class, most people take atorvastatin once a day. Others may need to take it twice a day if their physician decides that dosing will achieve better results.
How long after stopping statins do side effects go away?
Side effects typically clear soon after stopping statin use. However, continued statin use was correlated with lower risk of death compared to those who took statins then stopped after experiencing adverse reactions to these drugs.
What happens if you take too much atorvastatin?
Taking too much of any drug, including atorvastatin, can increase the risk of negative side effects. In cases of overdose with this medication, the FDA says that there is no specific treatment; rather, physicians should treat patients on a case-by-case, symptomatic basis.
Those believe they are overdosing should immediately contact their doctor, poison control services, or go to the ER. The 24/7 number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers is (800) 222-1222.