Olsalazine (Dipentum)

What is it?

Olsalazine consists of 2 molecules of 5-ASA linked by a chemical bond which is split in the lower colon by colonic bacteria.

What is it used for?

It is used to treat and maintain remission in acute mild to moderate ulcerative colitis.

How do I take them?

Olsalazine is presented in tablet form and is to be swallowed whole with plenty of water and with food. Watery diarrhoea is a common side effect but can be reduced if the dose is increased slowly. Once the symptoms have been controlled, you will be given a lower maintenance dose. Although you might feel better, it is important to continue taking the medication as instructed to prevent the symptoms from coming back.

Are there any special precautions?

You should not take this drug if you are allergic to aspirin. It is not recommended for use if you have poorly functioning kidneys.

Use in pregnancy

It is safe to take Olsalazine during pregnancy as it is better for both you and your baby to treat active disease vigorously and effectively. The lowest effective dose will always be used.

Are there any side effects?

Olsalazine is generally well tolerated and side effects are not often reported as the 5-ASA molecule remains intact until it reaches the colon (99%). However, some effects which may occur could include:

• watery diarrhoea (common, occurs in around 15% of patients)
• headache
• nausea
• indigestion
• joint pains
• rash (not significant)

It may also cause a worsening of the colitis in a very few sensitive people.

Side effects tend to be related to the dose and can be minimised by gradually building up the dose. If side effects continue, the drug should be stopped.

NB: If you have any unexplained bleeding, bruising, sore throat, fever or generally feel unwell whilst taking the medication, you should see your doctor for a blood test and further advice who may stop treatment.