* The lipid-lowering drug simvastatin can cause severe myopathy and rhabdomyolysis, especially at the highest approved dosage (80 mg per day).
* Rhabdomyolysis can lead to acute tubular necrosis or acute renal failure, which can be fatal.
* The risk of rhabdomyolysis is further increased when simvastatin is taken in combination with niacin by patients of Chinese descent.
Diane S. Aschenbrenner is the course coordinator for undergraduate pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in Baltimore, MD. She also coordinates Drug Watch: firstname.lastname@example.org.