Fenofibrate. A review of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties and therapeutic use in dyslipidaemia

Drugs. 1990 Aug;40(2):260-90. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199040020-00007.


Fenofibrate is a lipid-regulating drug which is structurally related to other fibric acid derivatives, such as clofibrate. At the recommended dosage of 200 to 400 mg daily, it produces substantial reductions in plasma triglyceride levels in hypertriglyceridaemic patients and in plasma total cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolaemic patients. High density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol levels are generally increased in patients with low pretreatment values. Fenofibrate appears to be equally effective in diabetic patients with hyperlipoproteinaemia without adversely affecting glycaemic control. The influence of fenofibrate on the plasma lipid profile is sustained during long term (2 to 7 years) treatment. Comparative studies conducted to date have involved only small groups of patients--in overall terms fenofibrate was at least as effective as other fibrates, but larger comparative studies are needed before valid conclusions on its relative efficacy compared with nonfibrate lipid-lowering drugs can be drawn. The influence of fenofibrate on morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease has not been studied. Clinical adverse reactions to fenofibrate have mainly consisted of gastrointestinal disturbances, headache and muscle cramps. Transient elevations in transaminase and creatine phosphokinase levels commonly occur. Isolated cases of hepatitis with substantially elevated transaminase levels have been reported. Fenofibrate induces hepatomegaly, peroxisome proliferation and hepatic carcinomas in rodents, but this type of hepatotoxicity has not been observed in humans. The biliary lithogenic index is increased by fenofibrate, but this has not been shown to have increased the incidence of gallstones in treated patients. Thus, fenofibrate offers an effective and well tolerated alternative to clofibrate or other fibric acid derivatives, but its relative efficacy and tolerability compared with other types of lipid-lowering drugs, and its effect on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, remain to be clarified.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Fenofibrate / pharmacokinetics
  • Fenofibrate / pharmacology
  • Fenofibrate / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lipoproteins / blood


  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins
  • Fenofibrate