mesalamine, Pentasa, Rowasa, Asacol HD, Lialda, Canasa, Apriso, Delzicol

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What is mesalamine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Mesalamine is a drug used for treating ulcerative colitis and mild to moderate Crohn's disease. The exact mechanism of mesalamine is not known but is believed to be by reducing inflammation in the colon. Ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory diseases cause excessive production of chemicals, for example, prostaglandins, that produce inflammation in the colon. Prostaglandins are produced by the enzymes, cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase. These enzymes are over-active in individuals with ulcerative colitis. Mesalamine may work by blocking the activity of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase, thereby, reducing the production of prostaglandins. Reduced production of prostaglandins decreases inflammation in the colon and the symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis. Available forms of mesalamine differ in their route of administration and how often they are administered. Mesalamine was approved by the FDA in December 1987.

What brand names are available for mesalamine?

Pentasa, Rowasa, Asacol, Asacol HD, Lialda, Canasa, Apriso, Delzicol

Is mesalamine available as a generic drug?

Yes (rectal enema)

Do I need a prescription for mesalamine?

Yes

What are the side effects of mesalamine?

The most common side effects of mesalamine are: 

Infrequent side effects include:

Kidney dysfunction has been associated with mesalamine. Kidney function should be evaluated prior to and periodically during mesalamine therapy.

Mesalamine may cause an acute intolerance syndrome that resembles a flare of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) with cramping, abdominal pain, and bloody diarrhea. Fever, headache, itching, and rash also may occur. Symptoms usually subside once mesalamine is discontinued.

Mesalamine enemas contain sulfites and should be avoided in persons who are sensitive to sulfites.

Since mesalamine is related to aspirin in structure, individuals who are allergic to aspirin should not take mesalamine.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/11/2017

Quick GuideUlcerative Colitis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
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