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Fenofibrate Patient Tips

Medically reviewed on Oct 4, 2017 by C. Fookes, BPharm.

How it works

  • Fenofibrate may be used in the treatment of high cholesterol.
  • Fenofibrate activates an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase which increases the breakdown of lipids and the elimination of triglyceride-rich particles from the blood.
  • Fenofibrate belongs to the class of medicines called fibrates.

Upsides

  • May be used to treat high cholesterol (dyslipidemia). Fenofibrate lowers total cholesterol by 9 to 13%, VLDL cholesterol by 44 to 49%, triglycerides by 46 to 54% and apolipoprotein B (Apo B). Fenofibrate also increases HDL cholesterol by 19-22%.
  • Can be a good alternative for people who can't tolerate statins.
  • Should be used in addition to a healthy diet.
  • Also used to lower the risk of pancreatitis in adults with very high triglyceride levels (more than 2000 mg/dL).
  • Fenofibrate is more effective than statins at increasing HDL cholesterol levels, similar to atorvastatin and rosuvastatin at reducing triglyceride levels, but less effective than statins at lowering LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Available as oral tablets and oral capsules.
  • Generic fenofibrate is available.

Downsides

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Abdominal pain, a headache, backache, nausea, constipation, nasal congestion or a runny nose are the more common side effects.
  • Fenofibrate has been associated with myopathy (dysfunction of muscle fibers) and rhabdomyolysis (muscle cell destruction). The risk is increased in seniors and in people with diabetes, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, and also in those taking statins or colchicine. Tablets may need to be discontinued if serious muscle problems occur.
  • Has not been shown to reduce the risk of death from heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • Dosage may need to be reduced in people with mild-to-moderate kidney disease. Not recommended for people with severe kidney disease.
  • May cause increases in liver enzymes. Liver enzymes need to be periodically monitored and fenofibrate should be discontinued if liver enzymes reach three times the upper limit of normal.
  • In some people, fenofibrate may severely depress HDL cholesterol levels. HDL levels should be checked within the first few weeks of fenofibrate therapy and the drug discontinued if HDL cholesterol levels have dropped significantly.
  • May not be suitable for some people including those with gallbladder disease, liver disease, severe kidney disease and in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • May interact with some drugs including warfarin (may prolong bleeding times), sulfonylureas, colchicine, bile acid binding resins, and immunosuppressants.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

  • Fenofibrate is effective at reducing triglyceride levels and increasing HDL cholesterol levels; however, it is less effective than statins at reducing LDL cholesterol levels.

Tips

  • Can be given with or without food.
  • Use in addition to an appropriate lipid-lowering diet and regular exercise. Reducing body weight and alcohol consumption will also help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Report promptly any unexplained muscle tenderness, weakness or pain, especially if other symptoms (such as fever or feeling unwell) are also present.
  • Seek urgent medical attention if you develop symptoms of an allergic reaction (such as difficulty breathing, swelling, or a rash) or yellowing of the skin or eyes while taking fenofibrate.
  • Diseases such as hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels) and diabetes contribute to dyslipidemia, so it is important these are treated as well. In addition, some medications (for example, estrogen, bendroflumethiazide, and atenolol) may increase triglyceride levels.
  • Monitoring of cholesterol/triglyceride levels every four to eight weeks is important to establish the effectiveness of fenofibrate therapy. Your doctor should consider discontinuing therapy if you have not had an adequate response after two months of treatment.

Response and Effectiveness

  • Fenofibrate is quickly absorbed and converted into its active ingredient fenofibric acid once inside the body. Takes about a week for levels to stabilize. May take several weeks before effects on cholesterol and triglycerides levels are apparent.
  • Cholesterol and triglyceride levels should be monitored every four to eight weeks.
  • Dosage should be individualized according to response.

References

Fenofibrate [Package Insert] Revised 08/2017. Northstar Rx LLC. https://www.drugs.com/pro/fenofibrate-capsules.html

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use fenofibrate only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. This drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. It is an informational resource designed as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Drugs.com does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of this information. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2017 Drugs.com. Revision Date: 2017-10-04 01:58:57

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