Modified: February 1, 2023


Dear @Name@

Your healthcare team has discussed the following subject with you: rectal mesalamine. Brand names include Canasa and Rowasa. Here is some additional information. Let us know if you have any questions regarding this information.

How it works: This medication belongs to a class of drugs called aminosalicylates, which are also known as 5-ASAs. It helps to reduce the irritation and swelling (inflammation) in the lining of the intestines.

How it is taken: This medication is taken as a suppository (Canasa) or as a liquid enema (Rowasa) to deliver the medicine directly to the lower portion of your colon. The medication is inserted directly into the rectum and should remain in the colon for at least 20-40 minutes. If taken as prescribed, these medications can work as quickly as 2 to 4 weeks.

Common side effects: The benefit of taking this medication is that it is generally well tolerated and has not been associated with an increased risk for infection or cancer. However, in some cases, it may cause headache, nausea, abdominal pain and cramping, loss of appetite, vomiting, rash, fever, or diarrhea.  Some patients may experience cramping or feel the urgent need to have a bowel movement after taking the medication.  If you experience these symptoms, discuss this with your healthcare provider.

Special considerations: It is rare that this medication causes injury to your pancreas or kidneys. However, those with kidney problems should speak with their provider before using this medication. 

Points to remember: Before taking this medication, let your healthcare team know about other medical conditions that you may have or other medications (even over-the-counter medications or complementary therapies) you may be taking.

Other tips: The best way to control your disease is by taking your medication as directed. Even when you do not have any symptoms, it is very important to continue taking your medication to prevent your disease from becoming active again. Do not alter the amount of the medication or how frequently you take it on your own. If you have unpleasant side effects or you continue to have symptoms, speak to your healthcare team immediately.


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PDF /sites/default/files/2020-03/aminosalicylates.pdf