Fenofibrate (oral)

Fenofibrate, when used with a healthy diet and exercise, is a medication prescribed by doctors for the treatment of high fats in the blood such as cholesterol and triglycerides.

Overview

What is Fenofibrate

Fenofibrate is a prodrug, meaning that it is not an active medication until it is metabolized by the body. Once metabolized, it becomes an active form of fenofibric acid that reduces the level of triglyceride and cholesterol in the blood.

Fenofibrate is sold as a capsule or tablet under the following trade names:

  • Tricor
  • Lofibra
  • Triglide
  • Lipofen
  • Antara
  • Fenoglide

Along with lowering bad cholesterol and fats found in the blood, Fenofibrate is also effective in elevating the HDL cholesterol, also known as the good cholesterol. One of the family of drugs known as fibrates, it is prescribed to people at risk for pancreatitis due to the very high level of triglyceride found in their blood, a condition known as Hypertriglyceridemia. A healthy diet that is low in fat and cholesterol will also be prescribed to patients with this condition.

How does Fenofibrate work

Fenofibrate activates an enzyme found in the blood called peroxisome proliferator activated receptor, which increases the function that gets rid of fat in the blood naturally through proteins found throughout the body. When the triglyceride level in the patient's blood is lowered, it changes the make-up and size of LDL cholesterol, making it lighter and more easily used by the body as energy rather than staying in the blood and causing inflammation of the pancreas and other health concerns.

Is cholesterol bad?

Cholesterol is located in all people's bloodstreams of all people and performs important processes such as assisting with digestion. Too much cholesterol, however, can increase a person's risk for contracting pancreatitis, a swelling or inflammation of the pancreas.

Two of the main forms of cholesterol include lipoprotein types known as low density and high density or LDL and HDL. These are often called bad cholesterol and good cholesterol respectively. Both types must be in balance, however, for healthy functioning of the body's cells. Without drugs such as Fenofibrate, control of cholesterol levels in patients who don't respond to diet changes was practically impossible to achieve, leaving these people at risk for many health consequences.

What is Hypertriglyceridemia?

Hypertriglyceridemia is a condition wherein the triglyceride molecules in a person's blood are higher than normal levels allow. Triglycerides are the most common molecule found in a person's blood. When these levels are too high and the condition is left untreated, not only can it cause cardiovascular diseases but also acute pancreatitis, as this organ tries to deal with breaking down these fats. One of the most effective drugs on the market to combat high triglyceride levels is Fenofibrate.

Conditions Treated

  • Severe Fredrickson Type IV Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Mixed hypercholesterolemia
  • Hypercholesterolemia, Familial
  • Severe Fredrickson Type V Hypertriglyceridemia

Type Of Medicine

  • Fibrate

Side Effects

As Fenofibrate works to regulate fat levels in the blood, it may perform some tasks without regard to other health aspects, causing unwanted effects. If you experience any health changes such as those listed below, get in touch with your physician right away:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Skin rashes or itching
  • Aches in muscles
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Urine that appears dark in color
  • Cramps or stiffness in muscles
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bruising or bleeding for no reason
  • Fatigue
  • Skin or eyes appear yellow
  • Agitated mood
  • Bloating
  • Blood in urine
  • Urine amount or frequency has decreased
  • Pain in side or lower back
  • Abdominal pain that reaches to the back
  • Swollen calves, fingers or face
  • Joints are swollen
  • Pain in the upper right abdomen area

Other side effects will go away over time as your body gets used to Fenofibrate. You should still contact your physician if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffed or running nose
  • Pain in the back area
  • Irritated eyes
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Muscle weakness

You may even have symptoms that aren't listed here. Any changes in your overall health while you are being treated with Fenofibrate should be reported to your doctor right away to prevent any long-term health risks.

Dosage

Your physician will thoroughly examine you and determine a prescription of Fenofibrate based on several factors including your health condition, age and others. Follow what your doctor has prescribed, reviewing and understanding all information provided. Don't hesitate to contact your physician if you have any questions about taking this medication.

Capsules and tablets of Fenofibrate, no matter the brand name, should be swallowed whole without breaking, crushing or chewing them or dissolving them in any way. Broken tablets should be discarded of safely, not swallowed. Your doctor will instruct you on if you should take you medication with food or other medications.

Do not change the amount of Fenofibrate you are prescribed to take and do not take it more often or for a longer term than prescribed. Consult with your health care professionals if you have any trouble or any questions taking Fenofibrate as directed.

Capsules

For adults with high cholesterol, a dose of 130 milligrams of Antara is the general prescription, to be taken once daily with a meal. The Lipofen brand is normally prescribed for 150 milligram doses, once daily also with a meal. This dose may be changed up or down as required by your doctor. Lofibra brand Fenofibrate is also taken once per day with a meal but in a 200 milligram dose. Children with a cholesterol condition that are being prescribed Fenofibrate will have their brand, use and dosage recommended by their physician.

For adults who have been diagnosed with high fat or triglycerides, the Antara brand may be prescribed with a dose of 43 to 130 milligrams per day to be taken with a meal. Lipofen is generally prescribed at a dose of 50 to 150 milligrams per day with a meal or food. Lofibra is typically prescribed at 67 milligrams with a meal one time per day. Again, children may be prescribed this drug but will have their dosage determined specifically for them.

Tablets

For adults with high cholesterol, a dose of 120 milligrams of Fenoglide is the general prescription, to be taken once daily. The Tricor brand is normally prescribed for a 160 milligram dose once daily. This dose may be changed up or down as required by your doctor. Triglide brand Fenofibrate is also taken once per day but in a 160 milligram dose. Children with a cholesterol condition that are being prescribed Fenofibrate will have their brand, use and dosage recommended by their physician.

For adults who have been diagnosed with high fat or triglycerides, the Fenoglide brand may be prescribed with a dose of 40 to 120 milligrams per day. Tricor is generally prescribed at a dose of 54 to 160 milligrams per day. Triglide is typically prescribed at 160 milligrams one time per day. Again, children may be prescribed this drug but will have their dosage determined specifically for them.

Missing a dose of Fenofibrate should not prompt you to double your dosage to make up for it. If you have missed a dose accidentally and it is close to your next dosage period, skip the missed dose and continue on your regular dosing schedule.

Interactions

Most medications come with risk factors that your health care provider will go over with you in detail. You will also be given a patient leaflet that you should read completely and ask questions about if you don't understand the information clearly.

Hypersensitivity to other medications, certain foods, animals, artificial additives and dyes should be communicated to your health care provider to avoid any unwanted reactions to Fenofibrate. Bring a list of your current medications with you on your next doctor visit and include any non-prescription, herbal, holistic or vitamin supplements that you're taking.

Some medications are able to be used together without harm or reduced effectiveness of either drug. Combination therapies are a way to combat symptoms and make the patient more able to live a normal life. However, there are some drugs that should not be combined. The following drug should never be used with Fenofibrate:

  • Ciprofibrate

These medications aren't typically recommended for use in patients taking Fenofibrate, but their treatment may be necessary. Your physician may adjust your dosage or frequency of dosing if you are taking:

  • Acenocoumarol
  • Apixaban
  • Anisindione
  • Atorvastatin
  • Argatroban
  • Bivalirudin
  • Bemiparin
  • Dabigatran Etexilate
  • Colchicine
  • Danaparoid
  • Dalteparin
  • Dicumarol
  • Desirudin
  • Enoxaparin
  • Drotrecogin Alfa
  • Fondaparinux
  • Fluvastatin
  • Lepirudin
  • Heparin
  • Nadroparin
  • Lovastatin
  • Phenprocoumon
  • Phenindione
  • Pravastatin
  • Pitavastatin
  • RivaroProtein Cxaban
  • Protein C
  • Simvastatin
  • Rosuvastatin
  • Warfarin
  • Tinzaparin

Your risk of unwanted health conditions may increase if you are taking the following medications, which may be changed by your physician:

  • Cyclosporine
  • Colestipol
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Ezetimibe

Consult with your physician on whether to take Fenofibrate with food or whether certain foods should be eliminated from your diet altogether. You should also inform your doctor if you are a regular user of tobacco products or alcoholic beverages, as these could affect the way Fenofibrate works for you.

Your full medical history should be communicated to your physician in case you have diseases that would be dangerously affected by use of a statin drug such as Fenofibrate. Specifically, the following health conditions have been known to become worse or limit the effectiveness of this medication:

  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Heart disease
  • Muscle weakness, tenderness or pain
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Diabetes
  • Diseases of the gallbladder
  • Hypothyroid condition
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Cirrhosis of the liver

Warnings

It is unknown whether prescribing Fenofibrate to pediatric patients is an effective or safe way to treat any abnormally high levels of blood fats. For this reason, this age group is not typically prescribed medication such as Fenofibrate unless a doctor has the patient under close monitoring.

Geriatric patients who have age-related diseases of the liver or kidneys must proceed with caution when being prescribed Fenofibrate. Other than specific diseases warned about by the manufacturer, this age group is not expected to have any greater risk or lowered effectiveness with use of Fenofibrate.

Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not take Fenofibrate, as this drug has been proven to cause fetal developmental side effects that can be fatal to your unborn child. Reliable forms of birth control should be used while you are taking this medication. If you become pregnant, stop taking Fenofibrate and notify your health care provider as soon as possible. Women who are breastfeeding should stop doing so before they begin drug treatment therapy with Fenofibrate.

Your physician will require you to visit for regular monitoring of your condition while you are taking Fenofibrate; specifically your blood and urine will be tested for triglyceride and cholesterol levels to make sure that your diet and therapy with Fenofibrate are working to make these levels normal. You will also be monitored for ill effects on your health at this time. Make sure you keep all appointments as scheduled for your safety and wellbeing.

Unexpected pain or weakness in your muscles should be reported to your physician immediately to avoid contracting a serious health issue known as myopathy.

If your urine is dark in color or if you have a fever, diarrhea, cramps or spasms in your muscles or experience extreme fatigue, you may be at risk for rhabdomyolysis which can lead to severe kidney issues. Contact your doctor right away if you have any of these indicators.

Your condition, depending on how early it was caught, may still cause you to experience pancreatitis even after starting a health diet and drug therapy with Fenofibrate. Notify your health care provider if you have severe pain in your abdomen, constipation, chills, vomiting, nausea, fever or feel light headed in any way.

Your risk for gallstones may be greater after you start taking Fenofibrate. Severe pains in your side or stomach accompanied by vomiting or nausea will indicate a possible gallstone condition. Notify your health care provider right away if you show any signs of this condition.

Severe skin conditions involving peeling, loose, blistered skill accompanied by chills, itching, pain in muscles or joints, skin lesions, fatigue or weakness should prompt you to get in touch with your physician for emergency treatment.

Chills, sore throat and fever should be reported to your doctor as they may be an indication of white blood cell counts being too low. Your health care provider will want to be informed of this as soon as possible.

Other drugs should not be taken during treatment with Fenofibrate unless specifically approved by your doctor. This includes vitamin and non-prescription drugs as well as herbal or holistic remedies of any kind.

Storage

Retain the original packaging that your Fenofibrate arrived in and use it to store this medication properly. Keep this medicine at room temperature, away from exposure to excessive light, heat or moisture. Do not allow Fenofibrate to freeze and do not use it if it has become frozen. This medication, as well as others, should be kept out of sight and reach of children and pets.

Expired or unused Fenofibrate dosages should be disposed of properly according to your physician's instructions for safety. If this is not provided to you by your physician, consult with your pharmacist on safe disposal practices.

Summary

Fenofibrate is a member of the fibrate classification of medicines that are used in conjunction with a low fat, low cholesterol diet to improve a patient's level of fat found in their blood. LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels will decrease and HDL cholesterol levels will increase thanks to treatment with this drug and a new, healthy diet along with an exercise plan. Fenofibrate activates a critical receptor in the blood that alters the LDL cholesterol molecule itself, making it easier for the body to use as fuel.

Patients being treated with Fenofibrate are trying to avoid a serious condition involving the pancreas called pancreatitis, which is caused by a condition known as Hypertriglyceridemia. Patients may not be aware that they have this condition until it is too late and may still experience pancreatitis even when being treated with Fenofibrate. These conditions are caused by poor diet, obesity, diabetes, alcoholism, certain medications and some medications used to treat other medical ailments. Hypertriglyceridemia can also be a genetic condition, which can be tested for regularly if the patient knows they are predisposed to this condition.

Fenofibrate may cause unwanted adverse effects on a patient's health such as abdominal or back pain, diarrhea, and pain in the joints, nausea or headache. Any unusual health changes while under treatment with Fenofibrate should always be reported to your physician right away. Patients should be on the alert for symptoms associated with gallstones, for an onset of pancreatitis and for the symptoms indicating myopathy or rhabdomyolysis conditions, which are all at a higher risk when taking this drug. Regular visits accompanied by urine and blood tests will monitor a patient's fat levels in their blood as well as any unwanted effects that could harm them.

Patients should follow their doctor's prescription with regard to the brand and dose size as well as the frequency and duration of the treatment. Your doctor will further indicate if you should take Fenofibrate with food or not. Communicate any drugs that you are already taking and any health conditions you are being treated for or have been diagnosed with in the past to your medical team to insure your safety and the effectiveness of this medication.