sulfasalazine, Azulfidine

  • 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.

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GENERIC NAME: sulfasalazine

BRAND NAME: Azulfidine, Azulfidine EN-Tabs

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Sulfasalazine is a drug that is used primarily for treating ulcerative colitis. It is a prodrug, that is, it is not active in its ingested form. It is broken down by bacteria in the colon into its two components, 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA), and sulfapyridine. (5-ASA also is marketed as mesalamine (Lialda, Rowasa, Pentasa, Canasa Apriso, and Asacol.) The 5-ASA has a therapeutic benefit, but it is not clear if sulfapyridine adds any additional therapeutic benefit. The inflammation of ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory diseases is caused, in part, by excessive production of chemicals (for example, prostaglandins) that produce inflammation. Prostaglandins are produced by two enzymes, cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase, and these enzymes are over-active in individuals with ulcerative colitis. 5-ASA may reduce inflammation by blocking the activity of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase thereby reducing the production of prostaglandins. Sulfasalazine was approved by the FDA in 1950.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Sulfasalazine is used for the treatment of mild to severe ulcerative colitis, and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been used "off label" (unapproved by the FDA) for Crohn's disease and ankylosing spondylitis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/30/2014

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