Ezetimibe is the first lipid-lowering drug that inhibits intestinal uptake of dietary and biliary cholesterol without affecting the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. Following oral administration, ezetimibe is rapidly absorbed and extensively metabolised (>80%) to the pharmacologically active ezetimibe-glucuronide. Total ezetimibe (sum of 'parent' ezetimibe plus ezetimibe-glucuronide) concentrations reach a maximum 1-2 hours post-administration, followed by enterohepatic recycling and slow elimination. The estimated terminal half-life of ezetimibe and ezetimibe-glucuronide is approximately 22 hours. Consistent with the elimination half-life of ezetimibe, an approximate 2-fold accumulation is observed upon repeated once-daily administration. The recommended dose of ezetimibe 10 mg/day can be administered in the morning or evening without regard to food. There are no clinically significant effects of age, sex or race on ezetimibe pharmacokinetics and no dosage adjustment is necessary in patients with mild hepatic impairment or mild-to-severe renal insufficiency. The major metabolic pathway for ezetimibe consists of glucuronidation of the 4-hydroxyphenyl group by uridine 5'-diphosphate-glucuronosyltransferase isoenzymes to form ezetimibe-glucuronide in the intestine and liver. Approximately 78% of the dose is excreted in the faeces predominantly as ezetimibe, with the balance found in the urine mainly as ezetimibe-glucuronide. Overall, ezetimibe has a favourable drug-drug interaction profile, as evidenced by the lack of clinically relevant interactions between ezetimibe and a variety of drugs commonly used in patients with hypercholesterolaemia. Ezetimibe does not have significant effects on plasma levels of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors commonly known as statins (atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pitavastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, simvastatin), fibric acid derivatives (gemfibrozil, fenofibrate), digoxin, glipizide, warfarin and triphasic oral contraceptives (ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel). Concomitant administration of food, antacids, cimetidine or statins had no significant effect on ezetimibe bioavailability. Although coadministration with gemfibrozil and fenofibrate increased the bioavailability of ezetimibe, the clinical significance is thought to be minor considering the relatively flat dose-response curve of ezetimibe and the lack of dose-related increase in adverse events. In contrast, coadministration with the bile acid binding agent colestyramine significantly decreased ezetimibe oral bioavailability (based on area under the plasma concentration-time curve of total ezetimibe). Hence, ezetimibe and colestyramine should be administered several hours apart to avoid attenuating the efficacy of ezetimibe. Finally, higher ezetimibe exposures were observed in patients receiving concomitant ciclosporin, and ezetimibe caused a small but statistically significant effect on plasma levels of ciclosporin. Because treatment experience in patients receiving ciclosporin is limited, physicians are advised to exercise caution when initiating ezetimibe in the setting of ciclosporin coadministration, and to carefully monitor ciclosporin levels.
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