How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Ezetimibe belongs to the group of medications known as cholesterol absorption inhibitors. It lowers cholesterol levels by decreasing the body's ability to absorb cholesterol from the digestive system. It is used in addition to exercise and a healthy diet to lower cholesterol levels for people with high cholesterol. It may also be used with additional cholesterol-lowering medications known as "statins" or fenofibrate when either therapy alone is not sufficient to reduce cholesterol to desired levels.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each white-to-off-white, capsule-shaped tablet debossed with "414" on one side contains 10 mg of ezetimibe. Nonmedicinal ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, povidone, and sodium lauryl sulfate.

How should I use this medication?

The usual recommended dose of ezetimibe for adults and children 10 years of age and older is 10 mg once daily. It may be taken with or without food at any time of the day, but preferably at the same time every day.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the one above, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose of this medication, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from moisture and light, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to ezetimibe or any ingredients of the medication
  • have active liver disease or unexplained, persistently abnormal tests of liver function and are also taking a "statin" medication for cholesterol (e.g., atorvastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin)

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • back pain
  • coughing
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • red rash
  • sinus infections
  • throat infections

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • persistent muscle pain, aches, or weakness, or brown urine
  • signs of gallbladder problems (such as sudden, severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting)
  • signs of pancreatitis (e.g., abdominal pain on the upper left side, back pain, nausea, fever, chills, rapid heartbeat, swollen abdomen)
  • symptoms of liver damage (such as yellow skin or eyes, dark urine, abdominal pain, severe fatigue, pale stools, or general itchiness)

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of a severe allergic reaction (such as severe rash, swollen face, or difficulty breathing)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Allergic reactions: In rare cases, some people may develop an allergic reaction to this medication. Signs of an allergic reaction include a severe rash, swollen face, or difficulty breathing. If these occur, contact your doctor immediately.

Combination treatment: In some situations, this medication may be used in combination with another type of cholesterol-lowering medication called a "statin" (e.g., atorvastatin, pravastatin). If this combination is used, your liver function should be monitored by your doctor. This combination should not be used by pregnant women or people with active liver disease or unexplained, persistently abnormal tests of liver function.

Liver damage: Liver disease or reduced liver function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have liver problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication.

This medication may cause liver damage. If you experience symptoms of liver problems such as fatigue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools, abdominal pain or swelling, and itchy skin, contact your doctor immediately.

Muscle pain or damage: This medication may cause muscle pain or damage. If you have unexpected muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness, see your doctor right away, especially if these symptoms do not seem to go away.

Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas): This medication may cause the pancreas to become inflamed. This is called pancreatitis. If you have a history of or are at risk for developing pancreatitis, you should be closely monitored by your doctor while taking this medication. If you develop signs of pancreatitis (e.g., upper left abdominal pain, back pain, nausea, fever, chills, rapid heartbeat, swollen abdomen), contact your doctor. If you have a history of pancreatitis, gallstones, alcoholism, or high triglycerides, you may be more at risk of experiencing this. If you have sudden stomach or abdominal pains while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if ezetimibe passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using ezetimibe have not been established for children under 10 years of age. Ezetimibe is not recommended for children less than 10 years of age.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between ezetimibe and any of the following:

  • cholestyramine
  • colestipol
  • cyclosporine
  • eltrombopag
  • fibrates (e.g., fenofibrate, gemfibrozil)
  • warfarin

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.