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What to know about fenofibrate

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What is FenofibrateHow to take itWhen to take itDrug interactionsSide effectsMedical historyCostSummary
Fenofibrate is a medication used to treat high levels of bad cholesterol and triglyceride in the blood. It is good to follow a low fat diet while taking fenofibrate.
Medically reviewed by Alexandra Perez, PharmD, MBA, BCGP
Written by Anisha Mansuri
Updated on

Fenofibrate is an oral prescription medication that can help reduce high levels of bad cholesterol and triglyceride, a type of fat lipid that builds up in your bloodstream.

Fenofibrate is available under the brand names Tricor, Fenoglide, and Lipofen.

Like with all medications, fenofibrate may result in side effects. These include back pain, dizziness, and headaches.

It is often recommended that you follow a low fat diet while taking fenofibrate to avoid increasing cholesterol levels. This will also allow the medication to be at its most effective.

If you need help covering the cost of medications, the free Optum Perks Discount Card could help you save up to 80% on prescription drugs. Follow the links on drug names for savings on that medication, or search for a specific drug here.

What is fenofibrate?

A person speaking with a pharmacist to depict what you need to know about the medication fenofibrate.
Photography by SDI Productions/Getty Images

Fenofibrate belongs to a class of medications called fibrates (fibric acid derivatives). It works by speeding up the body’s natural functions that remove cholesterol.

High levels of fat in the bloodstream can put you at risk of inflammation of the pancreas. Fenofibrate can prevent this.

A doctor may also prescribe fenofibrate if you can’t take statin medications, which is typically the first course of treatment for high cholesterol.

Though fibrates are less effective at lowering cholesterol levels, they can better reduce triglycerides than most statins.

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How to take fenofibrate

Fenofibrate is an oral medication available in tablet and capsule forms, taken once per day. It’s important to follow all instructions on the label carefully, as dosage instructions vary for each person.

Some brand versions of fenofibrate may absorb more quickly when taken with a meal.

In addition to prescribing this medication, a doctor may recommend a diet low in fat, sugar, and cholesterol. Following these recommendations are essential for fenofibrate to work well.

What is the best time of day to take fenofibrate?

You can take fenofibrate at any time of day but you should take it with a meal.

Healthcare professionals may prescribe some people fenofibrate and a statin. In this case, you should take fenofibrate in the morning and the statin in the evening.

This allows each medication’s peak effectiveness to happen at different times of the day.

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible unless it’s almost time for the next dose. If you’re closer to your next dose, take only that dose.

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What drugs can negatively interact with fenofibrate?

Before beginning fenofibrate, you should give a doctor a list of any medications you’re currently taking. You can take fenofibrate together with some drugs, but it can negatively interact with others.

Common medications that may negatively interact with fenofibrate include:

  • statins like atorvastatin (Lipitor) can increase the risk of developing liver damage when taken with fenofibrate
  • immunosuppressants like ciclosporin (Neoral) or tacrolimus (Protopic) can present an increased risk of kidney dysfunction when used with fenofibrate
  • blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin) can interact with fenofibrate and may increase the risk of bleeding

Fenofibrate side effects

Side effects of fenofibrate range from mild to severe. Some side effects don’t require medical attention and will typically disappear once you get used to the medication.

Common side effects include:

  • runny nose, sneezing, stuffy nose
  • back pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • eye irritation
  • increased sun sensitivity
  • dizziness
  • headaches

In some instances, skin reactions may happen months after starting fenofibrate. Watch for symptoms such as blistering, peeling, and red lesions on the lips or in the mouth.

Fenofibrate may also cause muscle injuries like rhabdomyolysis. Signs of muscle injury can include muscle pain, back pain, and spasms. If left untreated, these injuries can damage the kidneys.

In addition to the above side effects, fenofibrate can cause severe allergic reactions in some people, which can be life threatening. Don’t hesitate to get medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • rash
  • itching
  • hoarseness
  • trouble breathing or swallowing
  • swelling of the hands, face, or tongue

Medical history risks

People with the following pre-existing conditions should not take fenofibrate as they may result in serious side effects:

If you have one of these conditions, be sure to speak with a healthcare professional to make sure fenofibrate is right for you.

What is the cost of fenofibrate, and how can it be purchased?

The average cost of fenofibrate is typically $20 for a pack of 30 tablets. As it’s a prescription-only medication, you can purchase it at pharmacies or grocery stores that have a pharmacy counter.

If you need help covering the cost of your medication, Optum Perks offers a free discount card that can help you save up to 80% on your prescription medication.

An Optum Perks coupon could lower the typical price of fenofibrate to $4.92, helping you save more than 75% off your prescription.

Summary

While statins are the first course of treatment when lowering cholesterol, healthcare professionals can prescribe fenofibrate when statins are ineffective or cause unwanted side effects.

Fenofibrate is also the primary treatment for lowering triglycerides to prevent pancreatitis.

But this medication comes with its own list of potential side effects, drug interactions, and potential medical history complications, which should be carefully observed.

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