alone or in combination with other medications, such as HMG-CoA inhibitors (statins) or bile acid-binding resins;
to decrease the risk of another heart attack in patients with high cholesterol who have had a heart attack;
to prevent worsening of atherosclerosis (buildup of cholesterol and fats along the walls of the blood vessels) in patients with high cholesterol and coronary artery disease;
to reduce the amount of triglycerides (other fatty substances) in the blood in patients with very high triglycerides who are at risk of pancreatic disease (conditions affecting the pancreas, a gland that produces fluid to break down food and hormones to control blood sugar).
Niacin is also used to prevent and treat pellagra (niacin deficiency), a disease caused by inadequate diet and other medical problems. Niacin is a B-complex vitamin. At therapeutic doses, niacin is a cholesterol-lowering medication.
Results of a clinical study in people with heart disease and well-controlled cholesterol levels that compared people who took niacin and simvastatin with people who took simvastatin alone and found similar results for the two groups in the rate of heart attacks or strokes. Taking niacin along with simvastatin or lovastatin also has not been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease or death compared with the use of niacin, simvastatin, or lovastatin alone. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about the risks and benefits of treating increased amounts of cholesterol in your blood with niacin and other medications.
Niacin comes as a tablet and an extended-release (long-acting) tablet to take by mouth. The regular tablet usually is taken two to three times a day with meals, and the extended-release tablet is taken once a day, at bedtime, after a low-fat snack. Follow the directions on your prescription label or package label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take niacin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Swallow the extended-release tablets whole; do not split, chew, or crush them.
Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of niacin and gradually increase your dose.
Continue to take niacin even if you feel well. Do not stop taking niacin without talking to your doctor.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Be sure to follow all exercise and dietary recommendations made by your doctor or dietitian. You can also visit the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) website for additional dietary information at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/chol_tlc.pdf.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
If you stop taking niacin for any length of time, call your doctor before you start taking it again.
dark colored urine
light colored stools
unusual bleeding or bruising
lack of energy
loss of appetite
pain in the upper right part of the stomach
yellowing of the skin or eyes
difficulty breathing or swallowing
swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to niacin.
Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking niacin.
Only use the brand and type of niacin that your doctor prescribed. Do not use another brand of niacin or switch between products without talking to your doctor. If you switch to a different brand or type of niacin, your dose may need to be changed.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Last Revised - 10/15/2013
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2014. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.