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Drugs. 1996 Nov;52(5):725-53.

Bezafibrate. An update of its pharmacology and use in the management of dyslipidaemia.

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1
Adis International Limited, Auckland, New Zealand.

Erratum in

  • Drugs 1997 Jan;53(1):188.

Abstract

The lipid-modifying profile of bezafibrate is characterised by marked decreases in elevated triglyceride levels, increases in high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels and decreases in total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. Bezafibrate also reduces elevated levels of lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] and fibrinogen, which are independent cardiovascular risk factors. Bezafibrate is effective in most types of primary and secondary dyslipidaemia. It is of greatest benefit in conditions featuring hypertriglyceridaemia and/or HDL cholesterol deficiency. This is particularly true for patients with diabetes mellitus, notably those with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) who are also likely to have increased fibrinogen levels. In the limited comparisons available, there appear to be few consistent differences in lipid-modifying effects between bezafibrate and other fibrates. Compared with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, bezafibrate causes larger changes in triglyceride and, in general, HDL cholesterol levels, and has a lesser influence on LDL and total cholesterol levels. These differences are advantageous when bezafibrate and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors are used as combined therapy in patients with severe dyslipidaemia unresponsive to either modality alone. The combination of bezafibrate plus an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor in clinical trials has not led to the predicted increase in myalgia. Indeed, bezafibrate is generally free of serious unwanted effects: rhabdomyolysis is rare and has occurred mainly in patients with renal dysfunction given excessive dosages. Other patient groups in whom bezafibrate has improved serum lipid profiles are those with isolated HDL cholesterol deficiency, dyslipidaemia secondary to renal insufficiency, and following cardiac surgery or other procedures. However, data for these indications are not extensive. Evidence is now available to show a beneficial effect of bezafibrate on retarding atherosclerotic processes and in reducing risk of coronary heart disease. The 5-year Bezafibrate Coronary Atherosclerosis Intervention Trial (BECAIT) in young male survivors of myocardial infarction demonstrated a smaller decrease in luminal diameter and a reduction in coronary events with bezafibrate compared with placebo. The Bezafibrate Infarction Prevention (BIP) study is expected to provide mortality data which is currently lacking for bezafibrate. In conclusion, bezafibrate is a useful and well-tolerated lipid-modifying agent in the management of primary and secondary dyslipidaemia. It has particularly beneficial effects in patients with hypertriglyceridaemia and/or low HDL cholesterol levels, and reduces fibrinogen levels. Together with its ability to sustain or improve glycaemic control, these properties make it a logical choice for treating patients with diabetes mellitus and dyslipidaemia. Additionally, the drug may be of value as combination therapy in patients with severe dyslipidaemia. Importantly, there is evidence that the drug can slow the atherosclerotic process and reduce cardiovascular morbidity. The ongoing BIP secondary intervention study and other investigations will help clarify the effects of bezafibrate on cardiovascular mortality and morbidity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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