Why is this medication prescribed?
Ursodiol is used to dissolve gallstones in patients who do not want surgery or cannot have surgery to remove gallstones. Ursodiol is also used to prevent the formation of gallstones in overweight patients who are losing weight very quickly. Ursodiol is a bile acid, a substance naturally produced by the body that is stored in the gallbladder. It works by decreasing the production of cholesterol and by dissolving the cholesterol in bile so that it cannot form stones.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Ursodiol comes as a capsule to take by mouth. It is usually taken two or three times a day to treat gallstones and two times a day to prevent gallstones in patients who are losing weight quickly. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take ursodiol exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
This drug must be taken for months to have an effect. You may need to take ursodiol for up to 2 years. Your gallstones may not completely dissolve, and even if your gallstones do dissolve you may have gallstones again within 5 years after successful treatment with ursodiol. Continue to take ursodiol even if you feel well. Do not stop taking ursodiol without talking to your doctor.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking ursodiol,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to ursodiol, bile acids, or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially antacids that contain aluminum (Amphojel, Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, others), cholestyramine (LoCHOLEST, Prevalite, Questran), clofibrate (Atromid-S), colestipol (Colestid), medications that lower lipid or cholesterol levels, medications that contain estrogen (including birth control pills), and vitamins and herbal products.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had disease of the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or bile duct.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking ursodiol, call your doctor.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Side effects from ursodiol can occur. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- upset stomach
- sore throat
- runny nose
- back pain
- muscle and joint pain
- hair loss
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- frequent urination or pain when you urinate
- cough with fever
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order blood tests to check your liver function every few months while you take ursodiol. You will also have a type of x-ray called ultrasound imaging to see how your gallstones are responding to ursodiol.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
- Urso® 250
- Urso® Forte