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Colesevelam

Generic Name: colesevelam (KOE le SEV e lam)
Brand Name: Welchol

Medically reviewed on June 18, 2018

What is colesevelam?

Colesevelam is a cholesterol-lowering drug.

Colesevelam lowers "bad" cholesterol in the blood, which is also called LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Lowering your LDL cholesterol may reduce your risk of hardened arteries, which can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and circulation problems.

Colesevelam is sometimes used together with another cholesterol-lowering medication such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), or simvastatin (Zocor).

Colesevelam is also used to improve glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes. This medication is not for treating type 1 diabetes.

Do not take colesevelam if you are in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis (call your doctor for treatment with insulin).

Colesevelam may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not take this medicine if you have a history of bowel obstruction, if you have very high levels of triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), or if you have ever had pancreatitis caused by high triglycerides.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take colesevelam if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • very high levels of triglycerides (a type of fat) in your blood;

  • a history of bowel obstruction; or

  • a history of pancreatitis caused by high triglycerides.

To make sure colesevelam is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • trouble swallowing;

  • a stomach, intestinal, or digestive disorder;

  • a history of major stomach or bowel surgery; or

  • if you have a vitamin A, D, E, or K deficiency.

Colesevelam should not be given to a child younger than 10 years old, or to a girl who has not yet started having menstrual periods.

FDA pregnancy category B. Colesevelam is not expected to harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Taking colesevelam can make it harder for your body to absorb certain vitamins. These vitamins are important if you are nursing a baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

The powder form may contain phenylalanine. Talk to your doctor before using this form of colesevelam if you have phenylketonuria (PKU).

How should I take colesevelam?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Take this medicine with a meal and a full glass of water or other liquid.

You may have to take several tablets at a time each time you take colesevelam. Follow your doctor's instructions. Tell your doctor if you have trouble swallowing the tablet whole.

To use the colesevelam powder, empty 1 packet into 4 to 8 ounces of water, fruit juice, or a diet soft drink. Stir and drink this mixture right away. To get the entire dose, add a little more water to the same glass, swirl gently and drink right away.

Colesevelam is only part of a treatment program that may also include diet, exercise, and weight control. Follow your doctor's instructions very closely.

Do not change the dose or timing of any other cholesterol or diabetes medications without your doctor's advice.

While using colesevelam, you may need frequent blood tests.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember (be sure to take the medicine with food and a full glass of water). Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking colesevelam?

Do not take any other medications within 4 hours before you take colesevelam. Colesevelam can make it harder for your body to absorb certain other medications.

Avoid eating foods that are high in fat or cholesterol. Colesevelam will not be as effective in lowering your cholesterol if you do not follow a cholesterol lowering diet plan.

Colesevelam side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using colesevelam and call your doctor at once if you have severe constipation or stomach pain.

Common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect colesevelam?

Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with colesevelam, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with colesevelam, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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