Brand Name (Generic Name)
Welchol (colesevelam HCl)
Welchol is a bile acid sequestrant that 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).
Who Should Not Take Welchol
Welchol is not for those with intestinal blockage, blood triglyceride levels of greater than 500 mg/dL, or a history of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) due to high triglyceride levels.
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.
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.
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. What I Need to Know About Diabetes Medicines. (Accessed 8/8/11.)
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD.
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