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Pentasa (Mesalamine) Medication Information
Pentasa is a prescription medication used to treat mild to moderate ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. Ulcerative colitis can cause swelling and inflammation in the lining of the colon (large intestine). It’s a condition that has periods of time with no symptoms or mild symptoms. But then flare-ups occur, and symptoms can suddenly get worse for a while.
Currently, there is no cure for ulcerative colitis. But there are treatments available that can reduce the intensity of flare-ups and lengthen the symptom-free time periods.
Pentasa reduces the severity of flare-up symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, stomach pain, and cramping. It can also help increase the amount of symptom-free time.
Pentasa is a controlled-release oral capsule that comes in two strengths: 250 mg and 500 mg. Your doctor will prescribe the strength that is best for you and may adjust it based on your response.
The usual dosage of Pentasa is two capsules by mouth 4 times a day.
Be sure to take Pentasa exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
Pentasa may not be safe for everyone with ulcerative colitis. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have:
- Liver and kidney disease
- Pancreas problems
- Skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or eczema
- Allergy to salicylates, mesalamine, or any ingredients of Pentasa
Pentasa should only be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding if clearly needed. It’s essential to talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Pentasa while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Like all medications, Pentasa may cause side effects. The most common side effects include:
- Stomach pain
Although not common, it’s possible that Pentasa treatment may make ulcerative colitis symptoms worse instead of better. Let your doctor know if you’re not seeing improvements within 2 to 4 weeks of taking Pentasa.
Taking Pentasa with certain medications could increase the risk of kidney damage or other side effects. Some examples include:
- NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen)
Talk with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Store Pentasa at room temperature (15-30°C/59-86° F).
- Pentasa capsules may be taken with or without food
- Drink plenty of water with Pentasa capsules
Can I take Pentasa for my ulcerative colitis if I have a skin condition like eczema?
People with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and eczema may have severe reactions to sunlight exposure with Pentasa. If you have eczema, talk with your doctor to discuss whether it’s safe for you to try Pentasa. If so, be sure to avoid direct sunlight if possible. When outdoors, always use sunscreen and wear protective clothing.
Pentasa capsules are too big for me to swallow. Can they be opened?
Yes, you can, if you follow these directions:
- Open the Pentasa capsule
- Sprinkle entire capsule contents onto a soft food applesauce or yogurt
- Consume the entire mixture without chewing or crushing
If you crush or chew the mixture, or prepare it in advance, this could destroy the medication or prevent it from being released when it gets to your large intestine.
- Pentasa - mesalamine capsule. Lexington, MA: Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=e39d9a3d-5d3a-4bb6-aab1-fdbb2a598606#:~:text=PENTASA%20is%20indicated%20for%20the,to%20moderately%20active%20ulcerative%20colitis. Accessed January 21, 2021.
- Crohns and Colitis Foundation. IBD Medication Guide. http://www.ibdmedicationguide.org/. Accessed January 21, 2021.
Author: Dr. Patricia Weiser, PharmD
Patricia Weiser, PharmD, is a licensed pharmacist and medical writer. She has clinical experience in community and hospital pharmacy. Patricia is a 2007 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.