Gemfibrozil is a drug that helps to reduce the levels of triglycerides in the plasma and change LDL and HDL cholesterol concentrations slightly. It works by activating certain receptors in the body – peroxisome proliferator-activated nuclear receptors – and modulating the synthesis and catabolism of lipoproteins.
As a result, it can help to control the triglycerides and cholesterol levels in your body and reduce your risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
Brand Names and Doses
Gemfibrozil is the generic name of the drug, which is the active component that has an effect on your body. You may also know it by a brand name, the name given by the drug manufacturing company, such as:
All of these brands contain the same medication – gemfibrozil – and have the same effect on the body. They are all available in a single dose of 600 mg.
Gemfibrozil is a type of drug called fibrate, along with another drug called fenofibrate. Both of these drugs work in a similar way in the body and have an effect on the triglycerides and cholesterol levels in your blood.
What is gemfibrozil used for?
Gemfibrozil is usually used to manage severe hypertriglyceridemia, when the levels of triglycerides in your blood are too high.
Keeping the triglyceride concentration in your blood at a safe level is important if you have a high cardiovascular risk and are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Lower levels of triglycerides make it more difficult for plaque to form and block the blood flow, which will help to protect you from cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.
Gemfibrozil can also be used if you have diabetes and dyslipidemia together. Additionally, it can help to reduce all cholesterol levels if you have mixed hypercholesteremia (high levels of LDL cholesterol, low levels of HDL cholesterol). However, statin drugs are usually more effective, so fenofibrate is the second choice.
Gemfibrozil should only be used in combination with diet and lifestyle alterations and not as a substitute for healthy living choices.
How does gemfibrozil work?
Gemfibrozil mainly works by activating receptors in the body, called peroxisome proliferator-activated nuclear receptors. When the receptor is activated, the rate that the fats in the body are broken down increases, leading to more elimination of triglyceride-rich particles from the plasma. As a result, the concentration of triglycerides in the blood is reduced.
It can also control the synthesis and breakdown of lipoproteins, such as LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.
This is useful to prevent cardiovascular events because triglycerides and LDL cholesterol are involved in the production of plaque in the blood vessels, which can build-up (atherosclerosis). This can block the flow of blood and possibly cause cardiovascular events such as a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or stroke.
If you are taking gemfibrozil, you may notice side effects such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Dry mouth
- Muscle pain
If you are taking gemfibrozil, you should be aware of the possible side effects so that you can recognize the signs and see your doctor if needed.
Gemfibrozil may interact with some other medications including:
Make sure that your doctor knows if you are taking any of these medications as they may need to adjust the dose or use an alternative medication.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Gemfibrozil is not usually recommended in pregnancy but it may sometimes be used under the advice of a medical specialist, depending on the particular circumstances. If you take gemfibrozil and are trying to conceive, it is best to talk to your doctor about your options and the best choice for you.
Gemfibrozil is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding due to the effect it could have on the baby if excreted in breast milk – we don’t have any research to tell us how it affects the baby.