Take gemfibrozil tablets/capsules 30-60 minutes before meals.
The most common side-effect is indigestion.
If you develop any unusual aches and pains in your muscles, contact your doctor for advice as soon as possible.
|Type of medicine||A lipid-regulating medicine commonly known as a fibrate|
|Used for||Hyperlipidaemia (adults)|
|Available as||Tablets and capsules|
Lipid is another word for fat. Cholesterol and triglycerides are types of lipid. When the concentration of lipids in your blood is too high, it is called hyperlipidaemia. Lipids are made naturally in our bodies and are also absorbed from the food we eat. If the levels of lipids are too high, the excess fat is deposited on to the walls of our blood vessels. This can lead to patches like small fatty lumps developing within the lining of some blood vessels. These patches can reduce the flow of blood, and lead to heart disease, stroke, and blood circulation problems.
High levels of lipids do not make people feel ill, but they can cause the problems mentioned above if left untreated. By lowering the levels of fats, gemfibrozil helps to prevent these long-term heart and circulation problems.
It is likely that you will be prescribed gemfibrozil if you have a high level of a lipid called triglyceride. It may also be given for other types of hyperlipidaemia, especially if other medicines (called statins) are not suitable for you.
Before taking gemfibrozil
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking gemfibrozil it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have problems with the way your kidneys work, or problems with the way your liver works.
- If you have bile and gallbladder problems, or gallstones.
- If you have an underactive thyroid.
- If you have diabetes.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take gemfibrozil
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about gemfibrozil and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take gemfibrozil exactly as your doctor tells you to. There are two strengths of gemfibrozil available - a 300 mg capsule and a 600 mg tablet. It is usual to be prescribed one 600 mg tablet to take twice a day. You may be prescribed capsules to take if your doctor feels that a lower dose than this would be more suitable for you. Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you.
- Take your doses 30 minutes or so before a meal. This is because gemfibrozil is absorbed better when your stomach is empty. It is best to take gemfibrozil at the same times each day, as this helps remind you to take your doses regularly. The ideal times to take your doses are 30 minutes before your breakfast and 30 minutes before your evening meal.
- Swallow the tablets/capsules whole with a drink of water. Do not break the tablets or open the capsules, as they have an unpleasant taste.
- If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is nearly time to take your next dose when you remember, skip the missed dose and take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You will need to have regular blood tests during your treatment with gemfibrozil to check that your blood and liver stay healthy.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with gemfibrozil. This is because gemfibrozil has the potential to interact with other medicines.
- Your doctor will give you advice about eating a healthy diet, reducing the amount of salt in your diet, stopping smoking and taking regular exercise. Following this advice will also help you to reduce your risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease.
- Treatment with gemfibrozil is usually long-term unless you experience an adverse effect. Continue to take the tablets/capsules unless you are advised otherwise by your doctor.
Can gemfibrozil cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with gemfibrozil. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common gemfibrozil side-effects ||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Indigestion, abdominal pain, wind, feeling sick||Stick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy meals|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids|
|Constipation||Try to eat a well-balanced diet and drink several glasses of water each day|
|Feeling tired, vertigo||Do not drive or use tools or machines until you feel better|
|Skin rash||If this becomes severe or troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Important: if you develop any muscle aches or pains, particularly in your legs, you should tell your doctor about it as soon as possible. This is an uncommon but more serious side-effect of treatment.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store gemfibrozil
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Maufacturer’s PIL, Lopid® 300 mg Capsules & 600 mg Film-coated Tablets; Pfizer Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated March 2011.
- British National Formulary; 66th Edition (September 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Adrian Bonsall