How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Colestipol belongs to the class of medications known as bile acid sequestrants. This medication is used to control high cholesterol. It is usually taken in combination with diet, exercise, or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

It works by binding to cholesterol and removing it from the blood. A reduction in cholesterol may reduce the risk of a heart attack associated with atherosclerosis (buildup of fat lining the walls of the arteries leading to the heart).

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Granules

Each packet contains colestipol 5 g. Nonmedicinal ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide.

Orange Granules

Each packet contains 7.5 g orange granules equivalent to 5 g colestipol. Nonmedicinal ingredients: aspartame (phenylalanine 18.2 mg/7.5 g granules), artificial flavour, beta carotene, citric acid, glycerin, maltol, mannitol, methylcellulose, and natural flavour.

Tablets

Each light yellow, film-coated tablet contains colestipol HCl 1 g. Nonmedicinal ingredients: carnauba wax, cellulose acetate phthalate, colloidal silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, povidone, and triacetin. The tablets contain no calories.

How should I use this medication?

The usual adult dose of colestipol ranges from 2 g to 16 g daily for the tablets, or 5 g to 30 g daily for the granules and orange granules, depending on circumstances. The medication may be given in a single dose or in divided doses.

The tablets should be swallowed whole and not cut, chewed, or crushed. The prescribed amount of tablets can be taken with water or other fluids. The tablets should be taken with meals.

The granules should be added to at least 100 mL of water, milk, flavoured drink, juice, or carbonated beverage. A heavy or pulpy juice may also be used. The mixture should be stirred well until the medication is completely suspended in the liquid. The granules and orange granules will not dissolve. After drinking the mixture, rinse the glass with a small amount of beverage to make sure all the medication is taken. The granules can also be mixed with milk in breakfast cereals, or along with pulpy fruits such as crushed pineapple, pears, peaches, or fruit cocktail. The granules and orange granules should never be taken dry.

Other medications should be taken at least 1 hour before or 4 hours after colestipol.

Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Colestipol HCl resin should not be taken by anyone who:

  • is allergic to colestipol or to any of the ingredients of the medication
  • has blocked bile ducts where bile is not secreted into the intestine

In addition, the orange granules should not be used by anyone with phenylketonuria as they contain phenylalanine (each 7.5 g of orange granules contains 18.2 mg phenylalanine).

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • belching
  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • stomach pain

Although most of these side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • constipation
  • loss of weight (sudden)

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • black, tarry stools
  • stomach pain (severe) with nausea and vomiting

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Bleeding tendency: In rare cases, long-term use of colestipol may cause vitamin K deficiency and therefore increase a tendency to bleed if injured.

Constipation: Colestipol may cause or worsen constipation. Increased fluid and fibre intake is encouraged to prevent constipation; your doctor may also recommend a stool softener.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: The use of colestipol by pregnant women or breast-feeding mothers requires that the benefits of the medication outweighs the risks. The safety of this medication for use during pregnancy has not been established.

Children: There is limited experience with the use of colestipol by children. Experts recommend, however, that drug treatment be considered for children 10 years or older who have tried diet therapy but still have unacceptably high serum cholesterol levels. In certain situations where a young child has extremely high serum cholesterol levels, medication treatment may even be started before 10 years of age.

If the child is started on medication therapy, a carefully planned diet therapy should also be followed in order to obtain best results. However, the safety of the tablets for use by patients under the age of 18 years has not been established. Because colestipol may interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K), the growth and development of children taking the medication should be monitored closely.

Seniors: People over 60 years of age may be more likely to experience gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) and nutritional (deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K) side effects.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between colestipol and any of the following:

  • atorvastatin
  • diclofenac
  • digoxin
  • fluvastatin
  • furosemide
  • gemfibrozil
  • hydrocortisone
  • lovastatin
  • penicillin G
  • pravastatin
  • propranolol
  • simvastatin
  • tetracyclines (e.g., doxycycline, minocycline)
  • thiazide diuretics (e.g., chlorthalidone, hydrochlorothiazide, indapamide, metolazone)

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.