Niaspan (Niacin) Drug Information

  • Why is this medication prescribed?

    Niaspan (niacin) is used with diet changes (restriction of cholesterol and fat intake) to reduce the amount of cholesterol and certain fatty substances in your blood. Niaspan (niacin) is also used to prevent and treat pellagra (niacin deficiency), a disease caused by inadequate diet and other medical problems. Niaspan (niacin) is a B-complex vitamin.

  • How should this medicine be used?

    Niaspan (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, with food. 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 Niaspan (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 Niaspan (niacin) and gradually increase your dose.

    Continue to take Niaspan (niacin) even if you feel well. Do not stop taking Niaspan (niacin) without talking to your doctor

  • Other uses for this medicine

    This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

  • What special precautions should I follow?

    Before taking Niaspan (niacin):

    • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to niacin, aspirin, tartrazine (a yellow dye in some processed foods and drugs), or any other drugs.
    • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin), medications for high blood pressure or diabetes and other vitamins. If you take insulin or oral diabetes medication, your dose may need to be changed because Niaspan (niacin) may increase the amount of sugar in your blood and urine.
    • tell your doctor if you drink large amounts of alcohol and if you have or have ever had diabetes; gout; ulcers; allergies; jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or gallbladder, heart, or liver disease.
    • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking Niaspan (niacin), call your doctor.
    • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking Niaspan (niacin).
    • you should know that this drug may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this drug affects you.
    • remember that alcohol can add to the drowsiness caused by this drug.
    • you should know that Niaspan (niacin) causes flushing (redness) of the face and neck. This side effect usually goes away after taking the medicine for a few weeks. Avoid drinking alcohol or hot drinks around the time you take Niaspan (niacin). Taking aspirin or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) 30 minutes before Niaspan (niacin) may reduce the flushing. If you take extended-release Niaspan (niacin) at bedtime, the flushing will probably happen while you are asleep. If you wake up and feel flushed, get up slowly, especially if you feel dizzy or faint.
  • What special dietary instructions should I follow?

    Eat a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet, which includes cottage cheese, fat-free milk, fish, vegetables, poultry, and egg whites. Use monounsaturated oils such as olive, peanut, and canola oils or polyunsaturated oils such as corn, safflower, soy, sunflower, cottonseed, and soybean oils. Avoid foods with excess fat in them such as meat (especially liver and fatty meat), egg yolks, whole milk, cream, butter, shortening, pastries, cakes, cookies, gravy, peanut butter, chocolate, olives, potato chips, coconut, cheese (other than cottage cheese), coconut oil, palm oil, and fried foods.

  • What should I do if I forget a dose?

    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.

  • What side effects can this medication cause?

    Niaspan (niacin) may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

    • itching, stinging, tingling, or burning of the skin
    • headache
    • blurred vision
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • heartburn
    • bloating

    If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

    • dizziness
    • fast heartbeat
    • faintness
    • yellowing of the skin or eyes

    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] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].

  • What storage conditions are needed for this medicine?

    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 emergency/overdose

    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.

  • What other information should I know?

    Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to Niaspan (niacin).

    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.

  • Brand Names

    • Niacor®
    • Niaspan®
    • Nicobid®
    • Nicolar®
    • Slo-Niacin®