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What is gemfibrozil

Gemfibrozil helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides (types of fat) in the blood. High levels of fat in the blood are associated with an increased chance of heart disease, strokes, and other illnesses.

Gemfibrozil may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

General medical information about gemfibrozil

Follow any special diet and exercise plan recommended by your doctor while taking this medication. Diet and exercise are very important factors in controlling cholesterol.

Who should not take gemfibrozil

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have:
- any type of liver disease--you need a properly functioning liver to break down gemfibrozil and remove it from your body;
- any kidney diseases--gemfibrozil may make kidney disease worse; or
- gallbladder disease--gemfibrozil increases the risk that gallbladder disease will recur.

Gemfibrozil is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means that it is not known whether gemfibrozil will harm an unborn baby. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant.

It is not known whether gemfibrozil passes into breast milk. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should take gemfibrozil

Take gemfibrozil exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these instructions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.

Take each dose with a full glass (8 ounces) of water.

Gemfibrozil is usually taken twice daily, 30 minutes before breakfast and dinner. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Do not stop taking gemfibrozil unless directed by your doctor. It may take up to 3 months for you to see the effects of this medication.

Store gemfibrozil at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

If you miss a dose:

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember up to 2 hours late. If more than 2 hours have passed, skip the dose you missed and take only your next regularly scheduled dose. Do not take a double dose of this medication.

What happens if you overdose:

An overdose of this medication is unlikely to threaten life. Call an emergency room or poison control center for advice.

Symptoms of a gemfibrozil overdose include diarrhea, headache, and muscle pain.

Avoid while taking gemfibrozil

Avoid fatty foods. They decrease the absorption of gemfibrozil. Try to decrease the total amount of fatty foods you eat and also do not take gemfibrozil at the same time as fatty foods.

Tobacco also decreases the absorption of gemfibrozil. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about options available to help you quit a tobacco habit.

Use caution driving, operating machinery, and performing other hazardous activities until you know how gemfibrozil affects you. It may cause some drowsiness or dizziness, especially at the start of therapy.

Possible side effects of gemfibrozil

If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking gemfibrozil and contact your doctor or seek medical attention:
- an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives);
- chest pain, shortness of breath, or an irregular heartbeat;
- nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or clay-colored stools;
- yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice);
- rash or itching;
- sores in your mouth or on your lips;
- swollen legs or feet;
- chills, fever, or blood in your urine; or
- muscle aches, pain, or cramping.

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take gemfibrozil and talk to your doctor if you experience
- indigestion;
- headache, dizziness, or drowsiness; or
- decreased sex drive.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect gemfibrozil

Gemfibrozil may increase the effects of the following drugs, which could lead to dangerous side effects:
- Anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin) may increase the risk of bleeding. A reduction in your anticoagulant dosage may be necessary.
- Oral antidiabetic medications such as chlorpropamide (Diabenese), glipizide (Glucotrol), glyburide (Micronase, DiaBeta, Glynase), tolbutamide (Orinase), tolazamide (Tolinase), and acetohexamide (Dymelor) may cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
- Insulin also may induce hypoglycemia.
- Other cholesterol-lowering drugs such as lovastatin (Mevacor), simvastatin (Zocor), pravastatin (Pravachol), and fluvastatin (Lescol) may increase damage to kidneys and muscles.

Gemfibrozil may have decreased activity if taken with birth control pills or with estrogens. Try to take these medications at different times of the day.

Gemfibrozil may have increased activity if it is taken with thyroid medications. Also try to take these medications at different times of the day.

Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with gemfibrozil. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

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