GENERIC NAME: niacin, nicotinic acid, vitamin B3
BRAND NAME: Niacor, Niaspan, Slo-Niacin, Nicolar (discontinued)
DISCONTINUED BRAND: Nicolar
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Niacin (nicotinic acid, vitamin B3) is a part of the normal diet that is essential to various chemical reactions in the body. It is used medically to treat individuals with deficiency of niacin. Advanced deficiency of niacin can lead to a condition called pellagra in which individuals develop diarrhea, dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), and dementia. Niacin also is used to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Specifically it reduces bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and increases good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). It is not clear how niacin causes its effects on cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but it may be by reducing the production of proteins that transport cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
Niacin is available in immediate and slow-release forms (Niaspan, Slo-Niacin). Natural sources of niacin include meat, poultry, liver, fish, nuts, green vegetables, whole grains, and potatoes. Niaspan was approved by the FDA in July 1997.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Niacin is used for treating niacin deficiency. It is also used for reducing elevated blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increasing HDL cholesterol. In patients with high cholesterol, coronary artery disease that increase the risk of heart attacks, niacin reduces the risk of heart attacks, and slows progression or promotes regression of coronary artery disease.
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