Main content

    Health Information

    Fibric Acid Derivatives for High Cholesterol

    Fibric Acid Derivatives for High Cholesterol

    Examples

    Generic Name Brand Name
    fenofibrate Antara, Lipofen, Tricor, Triglide, Trilipix
    gemfibrozil Lopid

    How It Works

    These drugs lower triglycerides and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol. They may have little effect on LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels.

    Why It Is Used

    Fenofibrate or gemfibrozil is prescribed for people who have very high triglycerides or who have low HDL and high triglycerides.

    Gemfibrozil may be used to reduce the risk of heart attack in people who have coronary artery disease (CAD) and also low HDL and high triglycerides.

    How Well It Works

    Gemfibrozil may lower the risk of heart attack in people who have CAD and low HDL levels. 1

    Side Effects

    All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

    Here are some important things to think about:

    • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
    • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
    • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

    Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

    • Trouble breathing.
    • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

    Fenofibrate

    Call your doctor right away if you have:

    • Hives.
    • Signs of an infection, such as chills, fever, or sore throat.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness, especially if you also:
      • Are more tired than usual.
      • Have a fever.

    Common side effects of this medicine include:

    • Headache.
    • Stomach upset.
    • Gas.

    Gemfibrozil

    Call your doctor right away if you have:

    • Hives.
    • Severe stomach pain with nausea or vomiting.
    • Fever or chills.
    • Muscle pain, especially if you are weak or more tired than usual.
    • Pain when you urinate.

    Common side effects of this medicine include:

    • Stomachache.
    • Gas.
    • Heartburn.

    See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

    What To Think About

    Be active and eat a cholesterol-lowering diet in addition to taking this medicine. Ask your doctor for advice on a diet that can help lower cholesterol. An example is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet . For more information, see:

    Click here to view an Actionset. High Cholesterol: Using the TLC Diet.

    Before taking this medicine, tell your doctor about all of the medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or supplements.

    If you are taking a statin as well as a fibrate medicine, watch for symptoms of muscle problems. If you have any muscle problems or pain, call your doctor right away. If you take both of these medicines, there is a greater risk for a serious muscle problem called rhabdomyolysis .

    Other medical problems. Be sure your doctor knows about any other medical problems you have. This includes:

    • Gallbladder problems, including gallstones.
    • Kidney disease.
    • Liver disease.

    Taking medicine

    Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

    There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

    Advice for women

    Fenofibrate. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, tell your doctor. Do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. If you are breast-feeding, do not use this medicine. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

    Gemfibrozil. If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, tell your doctor. Do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

    Checkups

    Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

    Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

    References

    Citations

    1. Drugs for lipids (2011). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 9(103): 13?20.

    Credits

    By Healthwise Staff
    Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
    Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
    Specialist Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
    Last Revised June 29, 2012

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

    1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.