Brand names of olsalazine

  • Dipentum

Olsalazine has been derived from salicylic acid. While olsalazine is itself dormant, in the colon bacteria converts it into mesalamine. Basically an anti-inflammatory agent, mesalamine is used in treating inflammatory ailments of the intestine. The benefits of mesalamine are considered to be owing to a local outcome from inside the bowel and, hence, very little (below 10 per cent) of it is absorbed when taken orally. Mesalamine is considered to be an active ingredient of sulfasalzine (Azulfidine). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States approved the sale and use of olsalazine in July 1990.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking olsalazine

As with any other medication, you need to adopt certain precautions while using olsalazine. Before taking olsalazine, tell your physician or pharmacist if you have any allergic reactions to this medicine, or to aspirin or any other related drugs - salicylates like mesalamine, NSAIDs like ibuprofen or if you have any other type of allergy. Before you start using olsalazine tell your doctor regarding your entire medical history, particularly if you have asthma, kidney ailments, liver problems, nasal polyps (growths in the nose) and/ or radiation therapy in the pelvic region. In addition, it is also important to tell your physician regarding all the prescription, non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs and herbal products, particularly if you are using anticoagulants (blood thinners), for instance warfarin (Coumadin) and vitamin supplements.

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It may be noted that the use of olsalazine may result in bleeding in the stomach. And consuming alcoholic beverages routinely may enhance the risks for such stomach bleeding, particularly when alcohol and this medicine is taken concurrently. Hence, it is advisable that patients taking olsalazine should cut down on their consumption of alcoholic beverages. You may consult with your physician or pharmacist regarding further details in this regard.

Olsalazine is known to be similar to aspirin. Hence, infants and teenagers ought not to take aspirin or any other medication related to aspirin, such as salicylates, if they are suffering from flu, chickenpox, any undiagnosed ailment or if they have just been administered a live virus vaccine, for instance, varicella vaccine, without prior consultation with their physician.

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Women planning to take this medication should tell their physician if they are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are breast feeding. If any woman becomes pregnant while using olsalazine, they should immediately call their physician and discuss the issue. In addition, olsalazine should be given to pregnant women only when it is absolutely necessary. Before taking olsalazine in such conditions, it is important for the patient to discuss with the physician regarding the benefits and potential risks of using this medication. This drug may pass on to breast milk and cause harmful consequences on a nursing infant. Hence, it is advisable that women who are breast feeding should keep away from this medication. If it is essential for nursing mothers to take olsalazine, they should take it only after consulting their physician.

People taking olsalazine should take care to keep away from unnecessary or long-drawn-out exposure to the sunlight. Even when it is absolutely necessary for them to go out in the sunlight, they ought to wear protective clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses. It needs to be noted that olsalazine has the potential to make the patients' skin sensitive to light (photosensitive).


Although sulfasalazine is generally considered to be the first line of medicine therapy for ulcerative colitis (chronic ulceration in the large intestine), many patients are usually unable to take the medicine owing to its unbearable side effects. Since olsalazine has a similar chemical composition, it can also be prescribed for patients suffering from this condition. Olsalazine is usually prescribed as a protection remedy for patients are suffering from ulcerative colitis in a condition of remission. In other words, it is given to patients with ulcerative colitis where there is an absence of recent symptom eruptions. In addition, olsalazine is also given to treat severe break outs of gentle to moderate ulcerative colitis.

Although olsalazine is used to treat ulcerative colitis, it needs to be mention that this medication does not cure the condition. However, it does help to diminish the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, for instance, diarrhea, stomach ache and bleeding from the rectum due to exasperation and/ or distension of the rectum or colon. When a bout of ulcerative colitis is treated, olsalazine is given to enhance the amount of time between such attacks.

Olsalazine belongs to a group of medications known as salicylate anti-inflammatory medicaments. It is believed that this medication works by obstructing the production of certain naturally occurring substances, such as prostaglandins, which may result in pain as well as swelling. In addition, olsalazine may also be prescribed for patients suffering from a different type of bowel ailment known as Crohn's disease.

How to use olsalazine

Olsalazine is an oral medication that is generally taken twice daily at intervals of 12 hours or as prescribed by your physician. It is advisable to take this medicine with food or after meals with a view to avoid stomach upset. The dosage of olsalazine depends on the medical condition of the patient as well as his/ her response to therapy with the drug. It is important to take olsalazine regularly with a view to obtain the utmost benefit of using the medicaments. In order to help you remember when you ought to take the medicine, take it around the same time every day. In case your condition persists or worsens even after taking olsalazine for a period of time, you should get back to your doctor and discuss the problems.

In case you miss a dose of olsalazine, take it immediately when you remember. However, if it is already time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and go ahead with your normal schedule. Never use a double dose of this medication in order to make up for the missed dose. If you suspect that you have taken an overdose of the medication, seek immediate medical help.

How olsalazine works

While the precise mode of action of olsalazine is yet to be ascertained, it seems that the medication helps to slow down the production of some natural substances, for instance, arachidonic acid, which is responsible for inflammation in the alimentary canal.

Side effects

  • abdominal pain or upset
  • diarrhea
  • an increase in the number of loose stools
  • loss of appetite
Less common

Possible interactions

The salicylate anti-inflammatory drug olsalazine is known to interact with a number of herbal medication or minerals and foods. Hence, they should not be taken concurrently.

Although herbal products, such as peppermint oil, flaxseed and psyllium husk have commission E monograph indications for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), this is not the same in the case of ulcerative colitis. In fact, scientists are yet to study the impact of these herbal substances when used with olsalazine to treat ulcerative colitis. It may be noted that people suffering from ulcerative colitis ought not to take herbs like rhubarb root, aloe vera, senna, cascara sagrada bark and/ or buckthorn berry or bark.

There are a number of medications that should not be taken with food, soon before or after meals, or while eating specific types of food, as this may result in interactions. There are also a number of medications that interact with alcohol or use of tobacco in any form. Hence, they should be avoided while taking such medications. It is important that prior to taking any medicine, including olsalazine, you discuss with your physician regarding the potential interactions they may cause with food, alcohol or tobacco.

Storage instructions

Olsalazine should always be stored at room temperature at 77°F (25°C) in a place which is away from light and moisture. However, this medication can be stored at temperatures between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C) for a brief period of time. Olsalazine should never be stored in the bathroom where the conditions are always damp. Like any other medication, always keep olsalazine out of the reach of your children or pets. Also never discard the medicine by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it into a drain, unless instructed otherwise. Discard the medications properly when their expiry date has lapsed or when they are no longer needed. For further details regarding the safe disposal of medicines, you may talk to your neighbourhood disposal company.


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