Brand Name (Generic Name)
Welchol (colesevelam HCl)
What is Welchol?
Welchol is a bile acid sequestrant, meaning that it binds to the bile acids in the gut and keeps them from being reabsorbed into the blood stream, resulting in a lowering of LDL cholesterol. Welchol has the unique ability not only to lower LDL but also blood sugar levels. It can be taken alone or with other cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins to lower the cholesterol levels. Welchol, along with diet and exercise, also lowers blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and may be added to some of the other diabetes 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 can take Welchol?
Selected adults can take Welchol to help treat type 2 diabetes along with diet and exercise.
Who Should Not Take Welchol?
• People with type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis
• Those with a history of triglyceride induced pancreatitis
• Those with triglyceride levels over 500 mg/dL
• People with intestinal blockage or who have trouble swallowing
• Those who take medicine whose absorption would be affected by Welchol
• Welchol can interfere with several important medicines. Check with your pharmacist of other health care provider before starting Welchol
• People at risk for certain vitamin deficiencies
It can help lower both blood sugar and bad cholesterol (LDL) and can be used in combination with some of the other diabetes medicines to produce a modest reduction in A1C levels (the 90 day average blood glucose levels). The dose may be taken either once or twice daily.
The tablets are rather large and the powder must be mixed before taking it. This medicine can reduce the effect of some other medicines if taken together so it important to speak with your pharmacist or other health care provider about the best way to get the most out of all of your medicines.
What dosage should I take and how should I take it?
The usual dose for diabetes is 3750 mg daily. It can be taken in tablet or powder form. The tablets come in 625 mg size so that means you take a total of six tablets daily. The powder is available in both 1875 and 3750 mg packets. The dose can be taken once a day or divided into two doses taken with meals.
What are the most common side effects?
• Nausea and vomiting
• Upper respiratory infections and flu-like symptoms
• Low blood sugar
• High triglycerides
• Body aches and pains
Reviewed by James A. Bennett 05/14
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