Welchol

Generic Name: Colesevelam

  • What is Welchol?

    Welchol, along with diet and exercise, lowers low density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol. It can be taken alone or with other cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins. Welchol is used to lower LDL cholesterol in people with high cholesterol levels, and is also used to help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.

    In addition, Welchol is used to lower LDL cholesterol in boys and in girls who have had a menstrual period, ages 10 to 17 years, with a condition known as heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (a genetic disorder that causes high cholesterol) alone or with other cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins after inadequate control with diet alone.

  • What is the most important information I should know about Welchol?

    Welchol may cause constipation and should be used with caution if you have stomach or intestinal problems or if you have had major stomach or intestinal surgery. Promptly discontinue Welchol and seek medical attention if severe abdominal pain or severe constipation occurs while taking this medication.

    Discontinue Welchol and seek prompt medical attention if symptoms of acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) take place. These symptoms may include severe abdominal pain with or without nausea and vomiting.

    Because of the tablet size, Welchol can cause obstruction of the esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth and stomach) and should be used with caution in patients who have trouble swallowing. Welchol for Oral Suspension may be used to help avoid esophageal discomfort, but it must be mixed with water and should not be taken in its dry form.

    Do not use Welchol as a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise plan; the drug should be used as part of an overall treatment plan to lower your cholesterol.

  • Who should not take Welchol?

    You should not take Welchol if you have a blockage in your intestines known as bowel obstruction, or if you are allergic or sensitive to any of its ingredients. Welchol should not be used in patients who have very high triglyceride levels or a history of inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) caused by high triglyceride levels. Welchol should not be used for the treatment of type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis (a life-threatening medical emergency caused by insufficient insulin and marked by excessive thirst, nausea, fatigue, pain below the breast bone, and fruity breath). In addition, Welchol should not be used in children younger than 10 years old or in girls who have not had a menstrual period.

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Welchol?

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Welchol. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis, vitamin K deficiency, thyroid problems, liver or kidney disorders, alcoholism, trouble swallowing, or stomach or intestinal problems.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    To Treat High Cholesterol Levels

    Adults: The usual dose is 1,875 milligrams (mg) taken as 3 tablets twice a day with a meal and liquid, or 3,750 mg taken as 6 tablets once a day with a meal and liquid.

    The recommended dose of Welchol for Oral Suspension is one 3.75-gram packet once daily with meals, or one 1.875-gram packet twice daily with meals.

    Children 10 to 17 years: Children are only recommended to take Welchol for Oral Suspension as one 3.75-gram packet once daily with meals, or one 1.875-gram packet twice daily with meals.

    Your doctor should check your cholesterol levels 4-6 weeks after starting therapy and periodically thereafter.

    To Control Blood Sugar in People with Type 2 Diabetes

    Adults: The usual dose is 1,875 mg taken as 3 tablets twice a day with a meal and liquid, or 3,750 mg taken as 6 tablets once a day with a meal and liquid. The recommended dose of Welchol for Oral Suspension is one 3.75-gram packet once daily with meals, or one 1.875-gram packet twice daily with meals.

  • How should I take Welchol?

    Take Welchol with a meal and plenty of liquid. It can be taken at the same time as other cholesterol-lowering medicine known as statins.

    Prepare Welchol for Oral Suspension by emptying the contents of a packet into a glass or cup and adding 1/2 to 1 cup of water. Stir the mixture well and then drink immediately.

  • What should I avoid while taking Welchol?

    You should avoid eating foods that contain high amounts of cholesterol and fat to ensure you get the maximum cholesterol-lowering effect of Welchol.

    The following medications should be taken at least 4 hours before you take Welchol: cyclosporine, glyburide, birth control pills, phenytoin, or thyroid hormone replacements (such as levothyroxine).

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Welchol?

    If Welchol is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Welchol with the following: cyclosporine, glyburide, levothyroxine, birth control pills, phenytoin, and warfarin.

  • What are the possible side effects of Welchol?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: abdominal pain, accidental injury, back pain, constipation, diarrhea, flu syndrome, gas, headache, infection, nausea, runny nose, sinus pain, upset stomach, indigestion, muscleaches, weakness

    Welchol may cause low blood sugar, which can make you anxious, sweaty, weak, dizzy, drowsy, or faint. It may also cause rapid heartbeat; vision changes; headache, chills, or tremors; or increased appetite. Contact your doctor if any of these symptoms occur.

    Tell your doctor if you are experiencing pain in your esophagus or if you have any problems swallowing the tablets.

  • Can I receive Welchol if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    The effects of Welchol during pregnancy and breastfeeding are unknown. Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. The drug should only be used during pregnancy if clearly needed.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Welchol?

    If you miss a dose of Welchol, take it with a liquid at your next meal. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

  • How should I store Welchol?

    Store at room temperature away from heat, moisture, and light.

Starting a Cholesterol Drug?

Our seven-week newsletter series, written by a pharmacist, will help you learn about your medication.
Sign Up

Meet the Pharmacists

I'm Beth Isaac, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

Check out my latest post on cholesterol drugs.

WelChol Related Drugs