Ezetimibe

Sounds like 'eh-zet-ih-mibe'

Easy-to-read medicine information about ezetimibe – what it is, how to take it safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Medicine to lower cholesterol
  • Ezetimibe Sandoz®
  • Zimybe® (ezetimibe in combination with simvastatin)

What is ezetimibe?

Ezetimibe is used to treat high blood cholesterol. It works by reducing the amount of cholesterol you absorb from food. It is often taken with other cholesterol-lowering medicines called statins.

You may also be prescribed ezetimibe instead of a statin if you cannot take statins or if statins do not work for you. Your treatment will be more successful if you also follow the healthy lifestyle advice given by your doctor.

In New Zealand, ezetimibe is available as tablets (10 mg) or in combination with simvastatin in the same tablet, called Zimybe®.

How to take ezetimibe

  • Take ezetimibe once a day, at around the same time each day.
  • You can take ezetimibe with or without food.
  • Ezetimibe usually lowers cholesterol levels within 2 weeks. To reduce your cholesterol effectively, you must keep taking ezetimibe every day and follow healthy lifestyle advice.
  • If you forget your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Always take ezetimibe exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to take, how often to take it and any special instructions. 

Precautions – before starting ezetimibe

  • Do you have problems with your liver?
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Are taking any other medicines? This includes any medicines that you can buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start ezetimibe. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Side effects

Like all medicines, ezetimibe can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Diarrhoea (runny poos)
  • Farting, wind, excess gas
  • Tummy discomfort
  • This is quite common when you first start taking ezetimibe, and usually goes away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Headache
  • This is quite common when you first start taking ezetimibe, and usually goes away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Tell your doctor.
  • Signs of problems with your liver, such as yellowing of your skin or eyes, dark urine (pee), pain in your abdomen (tummy). 
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline 0800 611 116.
  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rash, itching, swelling of your lips, face and mouth, or difficulty breathing.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline 0800 611 116.

Learn more

Ezetimibe Sandoz® Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
Zimybe Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
Ezetimibe NZ Formulary Patient Information

References

  1. Ezetimibe NZ Formulary
  2. Ezetimibe + simvastatin NZ Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 01 Sep 2020