Brand Name (Generic Name)
Welchol (colesevelam HCl)
Welchol is a bile acid sequestrant that has the unique ability to lower both cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It lowers LDL, or "bad," cholesterol along with diet and exercise. It can be taken alone or with other cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins.
Welchol, along with diet and exercise, also lowers blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus when added to other antidiabetic medications (metformin, sulfonylureas, or insulin). Although the mechanism behind its blood sugar-lowering effect is unknown, it is thought that it may reduce insulin resistance in the liver, leading to a reduction in glucose production by the liver. It may have an effect on molecular mediators of glucose metabolism and it may reduce intestinal glucose absorption.
Who Should Not Take Welchol
Welchol is not for those with intestinal blockage, blood triglyceride levels of greater than 500 mg/dL, a history of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) due to high triglyceride levels, or those who take medicine whose absorption would be affected by Welchol.
Talk to your doctor if:
- you have high triglycerides (greater than 300 mg/dL).
- you have stomach or intestinal problems, including gastroparesis (when the stomach takes too long to empty its contents), abnormal contractions of the digestive system, major gastrointestinal tract surgery, or if you have trouble swallowing.
- you have vitamin A, D, E, or K deficiencies.
Welchol has known interactions with glyburide (a drug for diabetes), levothyroxine (a drug used to treat an underactive thyroid) and certain oral contraceptives.
How is Welchol taken?
The usual dose for diabetes is 3750 mg daily. It can be taken in tablet or powder form. The dose can be taken once a day or divided into two doses taken with meals.
Potential side effects
In patients with high LDL ("bad" cholesterol) side effects that occurred greater than the placebo (a "sugar" pill) were constipation, indigestion, nausea, accidental injury, weakness, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, runny nose, and muscle aches.
In patients with type 2 diabetes side effects that occurred greater than the placebo were constipation, inflamed nasal passages and throat, indigestion, low blood sugar, nausea, and high blood pressure. This drug may also bind up with other medicines you may be taking so that they don't get absorbed into your system. Check with your pharmacist or other healthcare professional for advice.
Reviewed by James A. Bennett 05/13
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