sorbitol (Ora-Sweet SF, PCCA Sweet-SF, PCCA Syrup Vehicle, PCCA-Plus, Numoisyn)

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GENERIC NAME: sorbitol

BRAND NAMES: Ora-Sweet SF, PCCA Sweet-SF, PCCA Syrup Vehicle, PCCA-Plus, Numoisyn

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol naturally found in fruits. Its chemical properties allow it to have multiple actions within the body. Its sweetening properties allow it to be used as a low-calorie sweetener in medicinal solutions. Its hyperosmotic properties allow it to work as a laxative, drawing water into the colon from surrounding body tissues to allow softening of stool and relieve constipation. This ability to draw in water also allows it to be used in saliva substitutes to relieve dry mouth and during transurethral prostatectomy as a urinary bladder wash. The FDA approved sorbitol in February 1978.


  • Laxative Syrup: No
  • Irrigation: Yes


PREPARATIONS: Irrigation Solution 3%, 3.3%; Oral Solution 70%, Oral Suspension, Oral Syrup, Lozenge

STORAGE: Sorbitol should be stored at room temperature, 25 C (77 F). Heating above 66 C (150 F) or freezing should be avoided.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Sorbitol is used as a sweetening agent in medicinal syrups and suspensions, as a laxative to relieve constipation, as a saliva substitute, for bladder irrigation (wash) in transurethral prostatic resection or other transurethral surgical procedures, and as a diuretic to induce urination.

DOSING: The initial dose for use as a laxative in adults is 30-150 mL of an oral 70% solution, or 120 mL of a 25% to 30% rectal enema solution. For transurethral surgical procedures, a continuous wash of 3% to 3.3% solution is used.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Combining sorbitol with calcium/sodium polystyrene sulfonate should be avoided due to the significant risk of causing death of gut tissue (intestinal necrosis).

PREGNANCY: There are no adequate studies of sorbitol in pregnant women.

NURSING MOTHERS: Sorbitol should be used cautiously by nursing mothers.

SIDE EFFECTS: Sorbitol can cause abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting. It may also cause fluid retention in tissues (edema), dehydration, loss of electrolytes, increased blood sugar, and acidification of blood due to lactate production.

REFERENCE: FDA Sorbitol Prescribing Information

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/15/2014

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