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General Information About Welchol (Colesevelam)

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Updated September 15, 2013

General Information About Welchol (Colesevelam):

Welchol (colesevelam) is a cholesterol-lowering medication that belongs to the bile acid resin class of drugs. Studies have shown that Welchol mainly lowers LDL cholesterol by 15 to 30% and slightly raises HDL by 3 to 5%. Welchol does not appear to affect triglycerides and, in some cases, may actually raise triglycerides if taken for a prolonged amount of time.

How Welchol (Colesevelam) Works:

Welchol works by binding to cholesterol in the small intestine and preventing the absorption of cholesterol into the blood. As a consequence, cholesterol is excreted through the feces instead of circulated in the body.

How To Take Welchol (Colesevelam):

Welchol should be taken with food and a full glass of water.

Who Shouldn't Take Welchol (Colesevelam):

The following groups of people should not take Welchol:
  • Individuals who have had an allergic reaction to Welchol or any of its components.
  • Individuals diagnosed with a bowel obstruction.

Conditions That Need To Be Monitored While Taking Welchol (Colesevelam):

Individuals with the following conditions may or may not be able to take Welchol. It is important that they consult with a healthcare provider before doing so.
  • difficulty swallowing
  • triglycerides greater than 300 mg/dL
  • gallbladder disease

There have only been few studies of Welchol use in pregnant women, so caution is advised. Since this drug can decrease the absorption of some vitamins, prenatal vitamins may not be effective while taking Welchol.

General Side Effects Of Welchol (Colesevelam):

Gastrointestinal side effects are the most common side effects experienced when using Welchol. These include bloating, heartburn, nausea, indigestion, constipation and abdominal pain. Weakness and muscle pain have also been reported.

Drugs That Could Interact With Welchol (Colesevelam):

The following drugs may interact with Welchol by decreasing the amount of the medication absorbed into your blood. As a rule, it is probably a good idea not to take any other medications or supplements two hours before or six hours after taking any bile acid resin drug, such as Welchol. If you are required to take one of the drugs or supplements listed below, your healthcare provider may need to adjust your dose or the time you take it, monitor you more closely for side effects, or discontinue your use of it all together:
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Lanoxin (digoxin)
  • Birth control pills
  • Verapamil
  • Metoprolol
  • Coumadin (warfarin)
  • Fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K)
  • Medication for seizures, such as Dilantin (phenytoin) and phenobarbital

Disclaimer

This is a brief, non-inclusive overview of Welchol. It should not replace the information provided by your healthcare provider or the manufacturer of this drug.

Sources:

Dipiro JT, Talbert RL. Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiological Approach, 6th ed 2005.

Lacy CF, Armstrong LL, Goldman MP, et al. Lexicomp's Drug Information Handbook, 15th ed 2007.

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