Compare Niaspan vs. Atorvastatin

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Niaspan
(Niacin)

Lipitor
(Atorvastatin)

Lowers cholesterol. niacin is good for lowering triglycerides (fats), but it's not as good as statins for improving cholesterol.Lowers cholesterol. Lipitor (Atorvastatin) is a good medication to improve your cholesterol. Statin side effects can be difficult to deal with, but the benefits might outweigh the risks.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.226315789473684Niaspan
Reviews for Niaspan (Niacin)
43%
of people say Niaspan (Niacin) is worth it
31%
say it works well
19%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Lipitor (Atorvastatin)
63%
+20% vs. Niaspan (Niacin)
51%
+20% vs. Niaspan (Niacin)
13%
+6% vs. Niaspan (Niacin)
Side effects
NiaspanAtorvastatin
  • Flushing 50%
  • Itching 6%
  • Vomiting 5%
  • Nausea 4%
  • Cough increased 2%
  • Diarrhea 1%
More Niaspan side effects »
  • Diarrhea 8%
  • Common cold 5%
  • Muscle pain 5%
  • Joint pain 5%
  • Nausea 3%
  • Pain in extremity 3%
  • Urinary tract infection 2%
  • Sleep difficulty 2%
  • Muscle spasms 2%
  • Throat pain 2%
More Atorvastatin side effects »
How it works
NiaspanAtorvastatin
niacin is a cholesterol-lowering medicine. Researchers don't know exactly how it works, but it seems to lower the amount of "bad" cholesterol (LDL) made by the liver. It may also help your body process cholesterol.Lipitor (Atorvastatin) is cholesterol-lowering medicine called a statin. It lowers the amount of cholesterol your body makes, which helps lower "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and raise "good" cholesterol (HDL).
Type of medication
NiaspanAtorvastatin
Cholesterol-lowering
Nicotinic acid
Prescription only
Cholesterol-lowering
Statin
Prescription only
Available as
NiaspanAtorvastatin
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Pill
Used for (click to learn more)
NiaspanAtorvastatin
Risk factors for serious side effects
NiaspanAtorvastatin
  • Taking Niaspan (Niacin) with statins
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Past history of liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Taking Niaspan (Niacin) with anticoagulants
Detailed Niaspan (Niacin) risks & warnings »
    • Heavy alcohol use
    • Prior history of chronic liver disease
    • Pregnancy
        Detailed Lipitor (Atorvastatin) risks & warnings »
        Pregnancy category
        NiaspanAtorvastatin
        CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

        Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

        See the FDA package insert
        XFDA pregnancy category (Unsafe)

        Research studies with real people or animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. If you’re pregnant, the risks to your unborn baby outweigh the benefits.

        See the FDA package insert
        Alcohol
        • Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and hot beverages right before you take this medicine.
        • People who take Niaspan (Niacin) have reported liver damage, especially if taken with statins or if you drink large amounts of alcohol. This has been rare. Talk to your doctor if you've ever had liver disease as they may discuss alternatives, or they may monitor your liver with blood tests.
        • You're at higher risk for these side effects if you are female, are 65 years or older, drink alcohol every day, take more than one medicine for cholesterol, or have liver disease, kidney disease, or diabetes.
        Food
        • You have to take it before bedtime with a low-fat snack.
        • Take it at bedtime with a low-fat snack.
        • Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and hot beverages right before you take this medicine.
        No specific food-related info.
        Kidneys and liver
        • People on Niaspan (Niacin) while taking statins have reported muscle pain which may lead to muscle and kidney damage. This has been very rare. Talk to your doctor if you develop sudden muscle pain or weakness or fever and you don't know why.
        • Statins can cause digestive problems, blood sugar problems, muscle aches and stiffness, muscle injury, kidney damage, and liver damage. Some people have to stop taking this medicine because of these problems.
        • You're at higher risk for these side effects if you are female, are 65 years or older, drink alcohol every day, take more than one medicine for cholesterol, or have liver disease, kidney disease, or diabetes.
        • People on Lipitor (Atorvastatin) have reported muscle pain which may lead to muscle and kidney damage. This has been very rare. Talk to your doctor if you develop sudden muscle pain or weakness or fever and you don't know why.
        Sex
        No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
        Sleep
        No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
        Weight
        No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
        Upsides and benefits
        NiaspanAtorvastatin
        • Lowers "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and raises "good" cholesterol (HDL) in people who have trouble doing this through diet and exercise.
        • Lowers the risk of a second heart attack.
        • Good for lowering triglycerides (fats).
        • Lowers "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides (fats) and raises "good" cholesterol (HDL) in people who have trouble doing this through diet and exercise.
        • Can lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death, particularly if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or a history of smoking.
        • One of the strongest cholesterol-lowering statin medications.
        • A good option for people who have high cholesterol and diabetes.
        Downsides and risks
        NiaspanAtorvastatin
        • By itself, niacin is not as effective as statins for improving cholesterol.
        • Can cause flushing and stomach pain or discomfort.
        • You have to take it before bedtime with a low-fat snack.
        • If you don't take it regularly, you might have to re-start the medicine at a lower dose.
        • Statins can cause digestive problems, blood sugar problems, muscle aches and stiffness, muscle injury, kidney damage, and liver damage. Some people have to stop taking this medicine because of these problems.
        • You're at higher risk for these side effects if you are female, are 65 years or older, drink alcohol every day, take more than one medicine for cholesterol, or have liver disease, kidney disease, or diabetes.
        • Eating a lot of grapefruit can raise your risk of liver damage.
        • Not safe to use if you're pregnant.
        Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
        NiaspanAtorvastatin
        • Take it at bedtime with a low-fat snack.
        • Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and hot beverages right before you take this medicine.
        • Can cause flushing.
        • Call your doctor if you develop muscle pain.
        • Don't stop taking this medicine suddenly.
        • Lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides, and raises good cholesterol.
        • Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice while taking this medicine.
        • Tell your doctor if you develop sudden muscle pain, fever or weakness.
        • Tell your doctor if you notice dark urine or yellowing of the eyes or skin.
        Learn more
        More about NiaspanSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
        More about AtorvastatinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert