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Sulfasalazine rectal


Rectal formulations of sulfasalazine.

Drugs List

  • SALAZOPYRIN 500mg suppository
  • sulfasalazine 500mg suppository
  • Therapeutic Indications


    Crohn's disease : rectal complications
    Ulcerative colitis


    The dose should be adjusted according to severity of the disease and the patient's tolerance to the drug.


    Acute attack or relapse
    Two suppositories to be inserted in the morning and two at bedtime after defaecation.
    The dose may be gradually reduced after 3 weeks as the patient improves.

    Adjustment to oral therapy
    Adjunct to oral therapy in severe generalised ulcerative colitis of the rectum or recto sigmoid, or slow-responding cases one or two suppositories may be inserted in the morning and at bedtime.


    The manufacturer recommends to reduce the adult dose on the basis of body weight.

    Other sources suggest the following doses for children aged 5 to 18 years:

    Treatment of mild to moderate or severe ulcerative colitis and maintenance of remission; Active Crohn's disease
    Children aged 12 to 18 years: 0.5g to 1g twice daily.
    Children aged 8 to 12 years: 500mg in the morning and 1g at night.
    Children aged 5 to 8 years: 500mg twice daily.

    Patients with Renal Impairment

    Use normal doses with caution in patients with GFR 10mL/min to 50mL/min. Ensure high fluid intake.

    Use low doses with caution and monitoring in patients with GFR less than 10mL/min.

    Assessment of renal function should include urinalysis.

    Patients with Hepatic Impairment

    Liver function tests should be performed during the second three months of therapy at monthly intervals, thereafter once every three months and then as necessary.


    Children under 2 years
    Acute porphyria

    Precautions and Warnings

    Allergic disposition
    Soft contact lenses
    Folate deficiency
    G6PD deficiency
    Hepatic impairment
    Renal impairment - glomerular filtration rate below 50ml/minute
    Slow acetylator status

    Risk of blood disorders is substantially higher in patients treated for R.A
    Ensure patient has adequate fluid intake
    Monitor FBC prior, every two weeks for first 3 months & periodically after
    Monitor liver function prior, every 2wks for first 3 months & periodically
    Monitor renal function prior,monthly for first 3months & periodically after
    Macrocytosis due to folate deficiency: give folic acid or folinic acid
    Monitor for signs of blood dyscrasias eg fever, sore throat, malaise etc
    Pregnancy: Monitor folate levels as supplements are recommended
    Advise patient to report unexplained fever, sore throat, bruising, bleeding
    Advise patients to report signs of hepatic damage (malaise, jaundice etc.)
    Pancytopenia due to folate deficiency: give folic acid or folinic acid
    Discontinue immediately if suspicion of a blood dyscrasia
    Male: May cause infertility
    May discolour urine orange
    May stain extended-wear soft contact lenses

    Complete blood counts, including differential white cell count should be performed before starting sulfasalazine, and every two weeks during the first three months of therapy. During the second three months, the same tests should be done once monthly and thereafter once every three months, and as clinically indicated.

    Generally about 75% of adverse drug reactions occur within 3 months of initiating therapy and over 90% by 6 months. Some undesirable effects are dose dependent and symptoms can often be alleviated by reduction of the dose.

    Pregnancy and Lactation


    Sulfasalazine should be used with caution in pregnancy. Long term clinical use has not shown teratogenic effect.

    Sulfasalazine and its metabolite, sulfapyridine, readily cross the placenta after oral administration and enter foetal circulation. At birth the resultant concentration of the drug and its metabolite in 11 infants was 4.6 and 18.2microgram/ml, respectively. As sulfonamides can cause jaundice in the newborn, Briggs (2011) suggests to use sulfasalazine with caution.

    Sulfasalazine also has the affect of acting as a folate antagonist, inhibiting both the metabolism and absorption of folic acid and folate supplements are recommended for the mother to reduce the teratogenic risk, Briggs (2011).

    The drug of choice in chronic inflammatory bowel disease remains mesalazine, Schaefer (2007).

    The use of all medication in pregnancy should be avoided whenever possible; particularly in the first trimester. Non-drug treatments should also be considered. When essential, a medication with the best safety record over time should be chosen, employing the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Polypharmacy should be avoided. Teratogens taken in the pre-embryonic period, often quoted as lasting until 14 to 17 days post-conception, are believed to have an all-or-nothing effect. Where drugs have a short half-life, and when the date of conception is certain, this may allow women to be reassured where drug exposure has occurred within this time frame. Further advice may be available from the UK National Teratology Information Service (NTIS) and through ToxBase, available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).


    The manufacturer advises that patients should avoid breastfeeding while taking this medicine.

    Sulfasalazine is secreted in small amounts in breast milk. Since sulfasalazine may cause haemolytic anaemia there is a theoretical risk to G6PD deficient infants and premature neonates. There have been reports of bloody stools or diarrhoea in infants who are breastfeeding from mothers on sulfasalazine. In cases where the outcome was reported, bloody stools or diarrhoea resolved in the infant after discontinuation of sulfasalazine in the mother.

    Schaefer, however, states that Sulfasalazine when administered at a maternal dosage of 2g daily, was found at a significantly lower concentration in expressed milk than when administered at increased doses of 3g daily. He found that this resulted in up to 10% weight-related portions of the drug reaching the baby (Schaefer 2007).

    Schaefer concludes that sulfasalazine may be used but the drug of choice in chronic inflammatory bowel disease remains mesalazine (Schaefer 2007).

    Neonates, infants born prematurely, those with low birth weight, those with an unstable gastrointestinal function or who have serious illnesses may require special consideration. For any infant, if a drug is prescribed to the nursing mother, it should be at the lowest practical dose and for the shortest time. When drug administration is unavoidable and breastfeeding is to continue, minimisation of exposure of the infant to the drug may sometimes be achieved by timing the maternal doses to just after a feeding episode. Infants exposed to drugs via breast milk should be monitored for unusual signs or symptoms. Interactions between the drug received by the infant from the mother's milk and medication prescribed for the infant should also be considered, for example, when the drug given to the infant may prevent metabolism of the drug received via breast milk.
    Specialist advice is available from the UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory Service at

    Side Effects

    Abdominal pain
    Acute pancreatitis
    Aplastic anaemia
    Aseptic meningitis
    Autoantibody positive
    Decreased appetite
    Discolouration of urine
    Drug fever
    Elevation of liver enzymes
    Epidermal necrolysis
    Exacerbation of colitis
    Exfoliative dermatitis
    Eye disorder
    Facial oedema
    Fibrosing alveolitis
    Gastric upset
    Haemolytic anaemia
    Heinz-body anaemia
    Interstitial lung disease
    Lichen planus
    Lupus erythematosus-like syndrome
    Megaloblastic anaemia
    Nephrotic syndrome
    Oligospermia (reversible)
    Periorbital oedema
    Peripheral neuropathy
    Polyarteritis nodosa
    Possible staining of soft contact lenses
    Pseudomembranous colitis
    Serum sickness
    Smelling disturbances
    Stevens-Johnson syndrome
    Taste disturbances


    It is strongly recommended that the UK National Poisons Information Service be consulted on cases of suspected or actual overdose where there is doubt over the degree of risk or about appropriate management.

    The following number will direct the caller to the relevant local centre (0844) 892 0111

    Information may be obtained if you have access to ToxBase the primary clinical toxicology database of the National Poisons Information Service. This is available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).

    Further Information

    Last Full Review Date: May 2014

    Reference Sources

    Drugs During Pregnancy and Lactation: Treatment Options and Risk Assessment, 2nd edition (2007) ed. Schaefer, C., Peters, P. and Miller, R. Elsevier, London.

    Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Reference Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk, 9th edition (2011) ed. Briggs, G., Freeman, R. and Yaffe, S. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.

    Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference, 37th edition (2011) ed. Sweetman, S. Pharmaceutical Press, London.

    Medications and Mothers' Milk, 14th Edition (2010) Hale, T. Hale Publishing, Amarillo, Texas.

    Summary of Product Characteristics: Salazopyrin Suppositories. Pfizer Limited. Revised February 2014.

    Therapeutics in Pregnancy and Lactation (2000) Lee, A., Inch, S. and Finnigan, D. Radcliffe Medical Press, Abingdon.

    The Renal Drug Handbook. Fourth Edition (2014) ed. Ashley, C and Dunleavy, A, Radcliffe Publishing Ltd, London.

    NICE Evidence Services Available at: Last accessed: 24 August 2017

    The Norwegian Porphyria Centre (NAPOS) Drug Database for Acute Porphyria (2007)
    Last revised: 17/03/10
    Available at
    Accessed 30/04/10

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