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Clofibrate Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 22, 2022.

Applies to clofibrate: oral capsule.


In general, the most common adverse effects due to clofibrate therapy are gastrointestinal in nature (especially nausea) and may subside over time or with a decreased dosage.[Ref]


Cholelithiasis and cholecystitis (sometimes requiring surgery or resulting in pancreatitis) occur more frequently in patients receiving clofibrate than in patients receiving placebo.[Ref]

Gastrointestinal reactions may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastritis, weight loss or gain, and gallstones (during prolonged therapy).[Ref]


Musculoskeletal effects (myopathy) typically occur as a "flu-like" syndrome (myalgia, cramps, muscle weakness, and arthralgia). Rhabdomyolysis with an accompanying increase in creatinine kinase and creatinine phosphokinase (CPK) has been reported in patients with renal disease.[Ref]

Patients diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis are usually asymptomatic clinically several days after discontinuing clofibrate, but the muscle enzymes may remain elevated for a more prolonged period. Severe renal disease may increase the risk of myopathies, perhaps because of accumulation of the active metabolite clofibric acid.[Ref]


Electrolyte disturbances like hyperkalemia have been reported in patients with renal insufficiency who receive clofibrate.[Ref]

Nervous system

Central nervous system depressant effects may include fatigue, weakness, drowsiness, and/or dizziness. Headache has also been reported.[Ref]


Hematologic adverse effects may include leukopenia, anemia, eosinophilia, agranulocytosis, and potentiation of anticoagulant effects. Because of these effects, some clinicians recommend periodic monitoring of blood counts.[Ref]


Cardiovascular complications may include various arrhythmias and altered angina pectoris. Swelling and phlebitis have occurred at xanthomata sites.[Ref]


Renal dysfunction (including dysuria, hematuria, proteinuria, and decreased urine output) has been reported. Acute renal failure and interstitial nephritis have also been reported.[Ref]


Decreased libido (primarily in men) and impotence have been reported.[Ref]


Hepatic disorders may include elevated liver enzymes and/or hepatomegaly. (Liver biopsy, when performed in this setting, is usually normal.) Clofibrate should be used cautiously for patients with a history of jaundice or liver disease.[Ref]


Dermatologic reactions which occur in about 2% of patients may include urticaria, rash, dry skin, and alopecia. Erythema multiforme, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and Stevens-Johnson syndrome have occurred rarely.[Ref]


One case of a hypersensitivity reaction occurring as eosinophilic pneumonia has been reported.[Ref]


Fever, which occurred on rechallenge with clofibrate, has been reported in one case.[Ref]


Oncologic effects of tumor growth in rodents have been associated with many lipid-lowering drugs. Clofibrate has been associated with liver, pancreatic and testicular tumors in rats. Long-term clinical trials are needed to define the risk of cancer in humans.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Atromid-S (clofibrate)." Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories (2001):

2. Faergeman O "Effects and side-effects of treatment of hypercholesterolemia with cholestyramine and neomycin." Acta Med Scand 194 (1973): 165-7

3. Pokroy N, Ress S, Gregory MC "Clofibrate-induced complications in renal disease: a case report." S Afr Med J 52 (1977): 806-8

4. Abourizk N, Khalil BA, Bahuth N, Afifi AK "Clofibrate-induced muscular syndrome. Report of a case with clinical, electromyographic and pathologic observations." J Neurol Sci 42 (1979): 1-9

5. Rush P, Baron M, Kapusta M "Clofibrate myopathy: a case report and a review of the literature." Semin Arthritis Rheum 15 (1986): 226-9

6. Cayen MN "Disposition, metabolism and pharmacokinetics of antihyperlipidemic agents in laboratory animals and man." Pharmacol Ther 29 (1985): 157-204

7. Shepherd J "Fibrates and statins in the treatment of hyperlipidaemia: an appraisal of their efficacy and safety." Eur Heart J 16 (1995): 5-13

8. Duell PB, Connor WE, Illingworth DR "Rhabdomyolysis after taking atorvastatin with gemfibrozil." Am J Cardiol 81 (1998): 368-9

9. Cumming A "Acute renal failure and interstitial nephritis after clofibrate treatment." Br Med J 281 (1980): 1529-30

10. Murata Y, Tani M, Amano M "Erythema multiforme due to clofibrate ." J Am Acad Dermatol 18 (1988): 381-2

11. Wong SS "Stevens-Johnson syndrome induced by clofibrate." Acta Derm Venereol 74 (1994): 475

12. Hendrickson RM, Simpson F "Clofibrate and eosinophilic pneumonia ." JAMA 247 (1982): 3082

13. Beckner RR, Canada AT, Ockene IS "Fever due to clofibrate ." N Engl J Med 301 (1979): 1345-6

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.