Zetia inhibits the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine by blocking certain enzymes that are critical mediators in the process of the cholesterol absorption process. As a result, a lower amount of cholesterol is available to the liver cells, which then propels them to absorb cholesterol from the blood to carry out their functions.
The medication does not have any effect on the absorption of fat soluble vitamins or triglycerides.
Available Forms and Strengths
White to off-white colored capsule shaped tablets of Zetia are available in 10 mg strength only.
Dosage and Administration of Zetia
Zetia is to be taken orally with or without food once daily. It is recommended to take the medicine at the same time each day.
As discussed above, it is often paired with other medicines for better results. In case, you are prescribed Zetia along with a statin, take both the medicines at the same time. But, if you are prescribed a bile acid sequestrant with it, make sure to take Zetia either at least 2 hours before or 4 hours after the bile acid sequestrant.
What to Do If You Miss a Dose of Zetia?
It is highly recommended to follow the prescribed dosage of Zetia and take it at the same time every day. However, if you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember.
If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed one and take the next dose on time – never take an increased dosage of Zetia to make up for the missed one.
What to Do If You Overdose On Zetia?
While the chances of overdose are extremely rare when you are taking Zetia, seek medical help immediately if you experience any serious adverse effect(s) or call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
How Long Does Zetia Take to Improve Cholesterol Levels?
The medicine can take up to two weeks before your overall and LDL cholesterol levels start to reduce, so do not worry and keep taking the medicine even if you do not experience any improvement in your condition in first few days.
Since cholesterol levels are checked via blood tests, you will need the blood tests frequently to determine the effectiveness of the medicine and to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Zetia tablets should ideally be stored between 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit; however, excursions are permitted to 59-86 degrees Fahrenheit.
The medicine also needs to be protected from moisture and heat.
Side Effects of Zetia
While Zetia is generally considered safe for most patients, some may experience negative effects while using the drug.
Common Side Effects
Patients administering Zetia can expect to have the following effects while taking the drug:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
Less Common Side Effects of Zetia
Here is a list of possible side effects of this lipid lowering drug:
- Feeling numb
- Symptoms of cold
- Feeling depressed
- Joint pain
- Pain in arm or leg
- Bleeding from gums
- Dark urine and/or black tarry stool
- Blood in urine and/or stool
- Increased heartbeat
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in stomach, back, and/or abdominal area
It is not known if the drug causes any harm to the fetus or if it passes into breast milk, so tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or a nursing mother.
Serious Side Effects of Zetia
Some lipid lowering medications have been known to cause the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissues and kidney failure. Although the chances of these effects are rare with Zetia, it is better to be careful and consult your doctor immediately if you feel unusually tired or experience unexplained muscle weakness, tenderness, and/or pain. See your doctor as soon as possible if these symptoms are accompanied by fever and dark colored urine.
Older adults or people who have poorly controlled hypothyroidism or kidney disease may have higher chances of experiencing these effects.
Inform your doctor immediately if you experience hive-like symptoms i.e. swelling of hands, feet, legs, tongue, lips, and face.
Possible Drug Interactions of Zetia
It is highly important to tell your healthcare provider about all the prescription, non-prescription, herbal, dietary, or recreational drugs that you use before starting to take Zetia. Although Zeita is primarily safe, it may interact with the following medications:
- Anticoagulants, commonly known as blood thinners, such as Jantoven, Coumadin, and Warfarin.
- Amlodipine (Norvasc)
- Crestor (rosuvastatin)
- atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- Crestor (rosuvastatin)
- Fish Oil (omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids)
- Fenofibrate (Antara, Fenoglide, TriCor, Lipofen, Lofibra, Lipidil EZ, Lipidil Micro, Triglide, Lipidil Supra)
- Furosemide (Lasix, Lo-Aqua, Diaqua-2)
- Gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin, Gabarone, Fanatrex)
- Hydrochlorothiazide (Aquazide H, Carozide, Ezide, Microzide, Esidrix, , Diaqua, Oretic, HydroDIURIL, Hydro Par, Loqua)
- Lipitor (atorvastatin)
- Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
Who Should Not Take Zetia?
This lipid lowering medicine should not be taken by people who are:
- Allergic to ezetimibe
- Suffering from a liver and/or kidney disease
- Suffering from a thyroid disorder
Do not take Zetia with a statin cholesterol lowering medicine (such as Crestor, Lipitor, and Zocor) if you are:
- Nursing mother
- Have an active liver disease
What Should You Avoid While Taking Zetia?
Zetia is only a part of the comprehensive treatment plan for keeping blood cholesterol levels within the healthy range. It has to be paired up with a healthy diet and exercise for better results.
Since diet plays a critical role in determining your health, doctors recommend patients to strictly follow a healthy diet plan and avoid eating foods that have high fat content. Zetia will not be as effective in lowering blood cholesterol if you do not eat healthy (low-fat) diet.
Prescription Assistance for Zetia
Since Zetia is an expensive drug (a bottle of 30 tablets costs around $369) and hence, is out-of-reach for many patients.
If you are also one of those patients who are unable to follow the prescribed treatment plan because of being uninsured, underinsured, and/or poor financial conditions, don’t worry because prescription assistance for Zetia is available.
Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Zetia, provides the medicine at no cost to patients who are eligible for the Merck Patient Assistance Program, also called Merck Helps.
While the program mainly caters to uninsured or underinsured patients who could not afford the medicines manufactured by Merck without assistance, it may offer assistance to patients experiencing unforeseen medical and/or financial hardships.
Under the Merck Patient Assistance Program, eligible patients can get up to a year’s supply of Zetia free of cost, under a single application. The patients can also re-apply for assistance as many times as they need.
Visit the Merck Helps website to find out the eligibility criteria for the program, to check your eligibility, and to know how you can apply for prescription assistance for Zetia.