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Generic Name

Olsalazine(ohl SAL a zeen)


Trade Name

Dipentum (10 mg.)


This drug is not available in a generic form.What is Olsalazine?

Olsalazine is a drug that is released by the action of colon bacteria and which quickly changes into the compound, mesalamine, which is an active anti-inflammatory drug used to treat ulcerative colitis.


What is it used for?

The drug is indicated in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, especially in patients who are intolerant to sulfasalazine. Regular use of the drug for 1 to 3 weeks is necessary to determine its effectiveness.


How do I take it?

Follow your physician’s instructions carefully. Take the drug with food, preferably in evenly divided doses (breakfast and dinner). The capsule may be opened and mixed with food such as applesauce. Keep all medications away from children. Never share your medications with anyone else.


What do I do for a missed dose?

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and return to the regular schedule. Do not double up the medicine.


Are there interactions with food or beverages?

There are no known interactions with food or beverages. It may be taken with milk.


Are there interactions with other drugs?

An interaction generally means that one drug may increase or decrease the effect of another drug. Also, the more medications a person takes, the more likely there will be a drug interaction. The drug should be avoided for six weeks after chicken pox vaccine as it may increase the risk of Reyes Syndrome. It is important to check with your physician before combining Dipentum with the blood thinner, warfarin (Coumadin).


Is there a problem if I have another disorder or disease?

At times, a drug may have a different or enhanced effect when other diseases are present. At other times, the drug may worsen or effect another disease. Patients with severe advanced kidney disease should discuss the use of Olsalazine with their physician.


What about allergies?

People who have known allergies or asthma may be at an increased risk for a reaction from any new medication. The physician should always know a patient’s allergy history. Signs of an allergic reaction are skin rash or itching. Of course, a person should not take Olsalazine if there has been a previous reaction to this or if there is an allergy to salicylates (aspirin, sulfasalazine).


What if I’m pregnant, considering pregnancy or breast-feeding?

Most females now know that, if possible, no drug, including alcohol, should be taken during pregnancy or lactation. The potential danger, of course, is an injury to the baby. However, some drugs are much safer than others in this regard. So, the FDA has a grading system for each drug which reflects what is known medically. It ranks drugs from A, where medical studies show no evidence for danger to the fetus or mother, to B, C, D and X, where the medical evidence indicates that the risk to the fetus outweighs any benefit to the mother. Olsalazine is ranked C. Always consult your physician before taking any drug during or when planning pregnancy.


What are the effects on sexual function?

In males, the drug may cause sperm changes and rarely impotence. Females may experience excessive menstrual flow.


Are there other precautions?

Use caution while driving as the drug may cause drowsiness or dizziness. This drug can cause sun and light sensitivity so it may be necessary to avoid prolonged sun exposure and to use sunscreens and sunglasses.


How long is it safe to take Olsalazine?

The drug appears to be safe to take long-term. Physician supervision is always required.


How about side effects?

Adverse reactions can occur with any drug, even over-the-counter medications. Some of these are mild such as a stomach upset, which may be avoided by taking the medication with food. Minor reactions may go away on their own but if they persist, contact the physician. For major reactions, the patient should contact the physician immediately.

For Olsalazine, the following are the observed side effects:


  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • rash
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • indigestion
  • fatigue


  • abdominal pain
  • severe diarrhea
  • aching joints or muscles
  • yellowish skin
  • sore throat
  • abnormal bleeding or bruising


A physician’s comment…

This drug has one major drawback in that it causes diarrhea which is a major symptom of ulcerative colitis so this may cause some confusion for the patient and physician. It is possible to titrate the drug, taking one capsule a day for several days, then two, and so on. Often patients can then tolerate the drug without the nuisance side effect of diarrhea.