Gemfibrozil

Sounds like 'jem-FYE-broh-zill'

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

Type of medicine Also called
  • Medicine to lower cholesterol
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as fibrates
  • Lipazil®


What is gemfibrozil?

  • Gemfibrozil is used to lower cholesterol (fat) levels in your blood. When excess cholesterol collects in the walls of your blood vessels, it increases your chance of having a heart attack, or stroke. Lowering cholesterol reduces your risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
  • It is usually used in combination with a statin in people with high triglyceride levels or low HDL-cholesterol levels, or it is prescribed when statins cannot be used to lower cholesterol (read more about cholesterol testing).  

Dose

  • The usual dose of gemfibrozil is 600 milligrams two times daily.  
  • Always take your gemfibrozil exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much gemfibrozil to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take gemfibrozil

  • Swallow your gemfibrozil tablets with a glass of water.
  • Gemfibrozil is best taken 30 to 60 minutes before food such as before your breakfast and before your dinner. This is because gemfibrozil is absorbed better when your stomach is empty.
  • Take gemfibrozil at around the same times each day. 
  • To reduce your cholesterol, you must keep taking gemfibrozil every day.  
  • 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.

Possible side effects

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

Side effects What should I do?
  • Stomach upset
  • Bloating or gas in the tummy
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Headache
  • These are quite common when you first start taking gemfibrozil, and usually go away with time
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Signs of problems with your liver such as yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pain in the abdomen
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116
  • Signs of problems with your muscles such as muscle aches and pain, pain in your legs, muscle cramps, tenderness or weakness
  • These symptoms are more likely if you are using gemfibrozil with a statin
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116

Interactions

Gemfibrozil may interact with a few medications and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more

The following links provide further information on gemfibrozil. Be aware that websites from other countries may contain information that differs from New Zealand recommendations.

Gemfibrozil Patient Info, UK. 

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Dr J Bycroft Last reviewed: 15 Feb 2016