DRUG-INDUCED MYOPATHIES is a topic covered in the Harrison's Manual of Medicine.

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Drugs (including glucocorticoids and lipid-lowering agents) and toxins (e.g., alcohol) are associated with myopathies (Table 195-2). In most cases, weakness is symmetric and involves proximal limb girdle muscles; myalgia and cramps may also occur. An elevated CK is often found. Diagnosis often depends on resolution of signs and symptoms with removal of offending agent.

DrugsMajor Toxic Reaction

Lipid-lowering agents

 Fibric acid derivatives

 HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors

 Niacin (nicotinic acid)

Drugs belonging to all three of the major classes of lipid-lowering agents can produce a spectrum of toxicity: asymptomatic serum creatine kinase elevation, myalgias, exercise-induced pain, rhabdomyolysis, and myoglobinuria.
GlucocorticoidsAcute, high-dose glucocorticoid treatment can cause acute quadriplegic myopathy. These high doses of steroids are often combined with nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking agents but the weakness can occur without their use. Chronic steroid administration produces predominantly proximal weakness.
Nondepolarizing neuromuscular blocking agentsAcute quadriplegic myopathy can occur with or without concomitant glucocorticoids.
ZidovudineMitochondrial myopathy with ragged red fibers

Drugs of abuse







All drugs in this group can lead to widespread muscle breakdown, rhabdomyolysis, and myoglobinuria.

Local injections cause muscle necrosis, skin induration, and limb contractures.

Autoimmune toxic myopathy


Use of this drug may cause polymyositis and myasthenia gravis.

Amphophilic cationic drugs




All amphophilic drugs have the potential to produce painless, proximal weakness associated with autophagic vacuoles in the muscle biopsy.

Antimicrotubular drugs


This drug produces painless, proximal weakness especially in the setting of renal failure. Muscle biopsy shows autophagic vacuoles.

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