What is ezetimibe, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Ezetimibe is an oral drug that is used for the treatment of elevated blood cholesterol. The most commonly used class of drugs for lowering cholesterol levels, the statins, act by preventing the production of cholesterol by the liver. Ezetimibe has a different mechanism of action and lowers blood cholesterol by reducing the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine. It does not affect the absorption of triglycerides or fat-soluble vitamins. The FDA approved ezetimibe in October 2002.

What brand names are available for ezetimibe?


Is ezetimibe available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for ezetimibe?


What are the side effects of ezetimibe?

The most common side effects of ezetimibe are:

Hypersensitivity reactions, including angioedema (swelling of the skin and underlying tissues of the head and neck that can be life-threatening) and skin rash rarely occur.

Other important side effects include:

What is the dosage for ezetimibe?

The recommended dose of ezetimibe is 10 mg daily. Ezetimibe can be taken with or without food and at the same time as statin drugs.

Which drugs or supplements interact with ezetimibe?

Cholestyramine (Questran), colestipol (Colestid) and colesevelam (WelChol), bile acid-binding drugs that may be used to treat elevated levels of cholesterol, bind to ezetimibe and reduce its absorption from the intestine by about 50%. Therefore, ezetimibe should be taken at least two hours before or 4 hours after administration of these drugs. Cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral) increases the levels of ezetimibe while ezetimibe increases levels of cyclosporine. Combining both drugs may increase side effects of either drug.

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Is ezetimibe safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies of ezetimibe in pregnant women. Therefore, physicians must weight the benefit of prescribing ezetimibe during pregnancy against potential but unknown risks.

There are no adequate studies of ezetimibe in women who are breastfeeding. Therefore, physicians must weight the benefit of prescribing ezetimibe to nursing women against potential but unknown risks.

What else should I know about ezetimibe?

What preparations of ezetimibe are available?

Tablets, 10 mg

How should I keep ezetimibe stored?

Ezetimibe tablets should be stored between 15-30 C (59-86 F).

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Medically Reviewed on 3/1/2019


Medically reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP; Board Certified Emergency Medicine


FDA Prescribing Information