How Effective is Fenofibrate & What are Its Side Effects?

Fenofibrate helps in reducing the risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) cutting down the levels of triglycerides (fatty acids) and cholesterol in the blood. Thus, it is recommended in the case of someone with high level of triglyceride and cholesterol. It is also used for various other purposes not listed in medical list.

The use of fenofibrate is not recommended if a person has some underlying conditions including gallbladder disease, liver disease, severe kidney disorder etc. It is also restricted for women who are breast feeding a baby.

How Effective is Fenofibrate?

How Does Fenofibrate Work?

When we take fenofibrate, it triggers the release of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that helps in metabolism of lipids. Thus, it reduces the level of particles rich in triglyceride from the blood.

How Effective is Fenofibrate?

Fenofibrate is effective in reducing the level of cholesterol (dyslipidemia) from the blood. Studies suggest that it can reduce triglycerides by 46 to 54%, VLDL cholesterol by 44 to 49% and the total cholesterol by 9 to 13%. It is also known to increase the HDL cholesterol by 19-22%.

  • Fenofibrate is particularly a very good option for people who can’t tolerate statins.
  • Fenofibrate does not require any change in your normal diet.
  • Some adults who have very high triglyceride levels (more than 2000 mg/dL) carries the risk of pancreatitis. It is also helpful in reducing triglyceride levels.
  • Fenofibrate can be safely taken with or without meal.
  • It works best when combined with regular exercise and proper lipid-lowering diet. Stop taking alcohol if you are alcoholic as it will help in reducing cholesterol levels.
  • In case you observe any of the side effects such as weakness or pain, muscle tenderness etc.
  • There are several other conditions such as diabetes and hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels) that may also cause dyslipidemia. Thus, it is important to take care of all such conditions along with taking fenofibrate.
  • It is important to measure the levels of cholesterol/triglyceride with a frequency of 4-8 weeks to ensure that fenofibrate is helping in reducing the levels of cholesterol. If not, the treatment must be discontinued.

The response and effectiveness of fenofibrate is excellent. When we take fenofibrate, it is converted into fenofibric acid but it can take up to one week to stabilize. Also, you may need to wait for a weeks to observe any significant reduction in the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.

  • The levels of triglyceride and Cholesterol must be monitored regularly with a frequency of 4-8 weeks to ensure that fenofibrate is working effectively.
  • The correct dosage of fenofibrate must be determined according to the response of body in case of every individual.

Before Taking Fenofibrate

Make sure that you are not allergic to fenofibrate or have one of the following conditions before starting a dose of fenofibrate.

  • Gallbladder disease;
  • Kidney disorder (or if need dialysis);
  • Liver disease;
  • Breast-feeding a child.

Make sure that you inform the doctor about any of the following conditions:

  • A history of pancreatitis
  • Diabetes;
  • Kidney disease;
  • A thyroid disorder;
  • Heart disease;
  • Liver disease

FDA pregnancy category C: It is not very clear if intake of fenofibrate can harm fetus or not. However, it is better to inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the near future.

What are the Side Effects of Fenofibrate?

Some of the common side effects of fenofibrate that can occur in an individual between the age group of 18-60 years and is not taking any other medication are as follows:

  • Common side effects include constipation, nausea, back ache, headache, respiratory problems and abdominal pain.
  • Some studies also suggest that the use of fenofibrate can also lead to rhabdomyolysis (muscle cell destruction) and myopathy (dysfunction of muscle fibers) especially in the case of people who have hypothyroidism, kidney problems or diabetes.
  • It must be strictly avoided in the case of people with severe kidney disease.
  • Fenofibrate is known to increase the liver enzymes and thus it is necessary to monitor the levels of liver enzymes regularly. The dosage must be stopped if the liver enzyme level become three times or more than the normal levels.
  • Fenofibrate is known to decrease the level of HDL cholesterol and thus it is necessary to monitor the levels of liver enzymes regularly especially during the first few weeks.
  • Fenofibrate is known to interfere with some of the drugs such as bile acid binding resins, colchicine, warfarin, and immunosuppressants.

If you observe any of the side effects or allergies such as difficulty in breathing, swelling in throat, lips, tongue or face, hives etc; you must seek immediate treatment from your nearest medical care center.

In a very few cases, it can also lead to breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue that can cause kidney failure. If you experience any symptoms of tenderness, physical weakness or pain in muscles, dark colored urine, report it to your doctor immediately.

The use fenofibrate must be stopped immediately if any of the following severe side effects of fenofibrate:

  • A severe abdominal pain that extends to your back and is accompanied by increased heartbeat, vomiting and nausea.
  • Occurrence of red and purple pinpoints under the skin.
  • Coughing associated with traces of blood, rapid breathing rate, pain in chest, wheezing.


Fenofibrate is an effective drug for increasing the levels of HDL cholesterol and reducing the level of triglyceride levels. However, it is not as powerful as statins in cutting down the levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 10, 2017

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