WelChol is a drug used to lower cholesterol. It has also been licensed to treat type 2 diabetes; however, while it is clear that the drug works within the digestive tract, it is not clear how it works to control blood sugar. WelChol comes in tablet form and is taken by mouth once or twice a day with meals. Common side effects include constipation and heartburn.
WelChol is part of a class of drugs known as bile acid sequestrants. It works by binding to bile acids in the intestines, preventing them from being reabsorbed into the body. Bile acids are made in the liver from broken-down cholesterol. Therefore, removing these substances from your body helps lower your blood cholesterol. The medication can lower both total and LDL cholesterol, while slightly raising HDL cholesterol.
It is not yet known how WelChol works to help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. However, it is clear that the drug works within the digestive tract, since it is not absorbed into the rest of the body.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: Approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed February 8, 2008.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
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