Meds and you

27 September 2013


Mesalazine is an intestinal anti-inflammatory agent.


(Also known as 5-ASA)

Mesalazine is the active ingredient of Asacol Tablets (Nappi Code: 783668-007), Asacol Enema (Nappi Code: 824127-005), Asacol Supps (Nappi Code: 824135-008), Mesasal Tablets (Nappi Code: 707496-001) and Pentasa Tablets (Nappi Code: 890775-004).

General information
Mesalazine is an intestinal anti-inflammatory agent.

In South Africa mesalazine is registered for the treatment of intestinal inflammatory disorders. These include Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory disease of the small bowel and ulcerative colitis, a serious disease that causes ulcers and irritation in the inner lining of the colon and rectum.

This drug does not cure the underlying condition, but simply keeps the symptoms under control. For mesalazine to be effective it has to be taken regularly, even if you do not notice an immediate effect.

How does mesalazine work?
It reduces the inflammation in the intestine, which in turn reduces the symptoms of the disease.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 3
Available as: mesalazine is available as tablets, suppositories and as an enema.
What does it do? Mesalazine has an anti-inflammatory action.
Overdose risk: low
Dependence risk: low
Is mesalazine available as a generic? yes
Is mesalazine available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: it may take several days for the full effect to be seen.
Duration of action: up to 12 hours
Dietary advice: mesalazine should best be taken with food.
Stopping this medicine: do not withdraw treatment abruptly as this may cause a return of symptoms; consult you prescriber before discontinuing treatment.
Prolonged use: there is an increased risk of adverse effects with prolonged use.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

Pregnancy: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.
Porphyria: avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.
Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children under the age of 15 years.
The elderly: no special precautions need to be taken.
Driving and hazardous work: no special precautions need to be taken.
Alcohol: no special precautions need to be taken.

Possible side effects

Side Effect
Consult your doctor

Only if severe
In all cases
nausea and vomiting




loss of appetite


abdominal pain




skin rash


sore throat




antacids premature release of mesalazine
azathioprine; Mercaptopurine increased risk of azathioprine/mercaptopurine toxicity
warfarin reduced effect of warfarin
lactulose reduced mesalazine release

Disease interactions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if you are allergic to, or if you have liver or kidney disease.

Overdose action
A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Adults: oral, 1.2-2.4 g/day in divided doses up to a maximum of 4 g/day

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

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