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Olsalazine (Dipentum®)

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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  • Olsalazine is a salicylic acid derivative approved in 1990 by the FDA for the treatment of ulcerative colitis in humans.
  • Though olsalazine sodium is inactive by itself, it is converted by the bacteria in the colon to 5-aminosalicylic acid (mesalamine, 5-ASA). Ten (10) grams of olsalazine is converted to approximately 9 grams of mesalamine in the colon. Mesalamine is thought to be the active component of sulfasalazine (Azulfidine®).
  • It works as an anti-inflammatory agent in treating inflammatory diseases of the intestines: Its effect is local within the bowel lumen.
  • The mechanism of mesalazine's action is unclear though it seems probable that it works as a cyclooxygenase inhibitor, blocking the production of prostaglandins in the colonic mucosa.
  • After oral administration of olsalazine, around 2.4% of the dose is absorbed. Maximum serum concentrations of olsalazine are attained after 1 hour in humans; serum concentrations of 5-ASA are detected after 4 to 8 hours. Olsalazine is 99% bound to plasma proteins and has a serum half-life of approximately 1 hour (in humans). One metabolite, olsalazine-O-sulfate, has a long half-life (approximately 7 days) and accumulates to steady state in humans in 2-3 weeks.
  • Olsalazine is not statistically different from sulfasalazine in its effectiveness and is considerably more expensive.
  • Olsalazine sodium is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian. It is also a controlled substance.
  • This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans only.
  • Human formulations: Dipentum® (Celltech)
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Olsalazine

    Olsalazine sodium is used in dogs for the treatment of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. chronic colitis).

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, olsalazine sodium can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Olsalazine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug or to other salicylates.
  • Olsalazine sodium should not be used in pregnant animals.
  • In addition, this drug may have some renal toxicity and should be used with caution in dogs with renal disease.
  • Some human patients (17%) administered olsalazine have reported worsening diarrhea.
  • Monitoring should include: CBC, BUN, creatinine, urinalysis, ALT, and AST.

    Drug Interactions

  • Olsalazine may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with olsalazine.
  • Olsalazine may increase PT in patients receiving warfarin.

    How Olsalazine is Supplied

  • Olsalazine is available as 250 mg capsules.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • In dogs, the usual dose of olsalazine is 5 to 10 mg per pound (10 to 20 mg/kg) every 8 to 12 hours.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.

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