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Drug Info > P > Pico-Salax
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DIN (Drug Identification Number)


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Brand Name


Common Name
picosulfate sodium - magnesium oxide - citric acid

In this drug factsheet:

DIN (Drug Identification Number)


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

This is a combination product that contains three ingredients: picosulfate sodium, magnesium oxide, and citric acid. This medication is used to cleanse the bowel in preparation for a colonoscopy, barium enema x-ray exam, or surgical procedures that require a clean colon.

Picosulfate sodium belongs to the class of medications called stimulant laxatives, which activate the colon and stimulate the muscles in the colon to contract, causing a bowel movement. Magnesium oxide and citric acid combine to form magnesium citrate, which is an osmotic laxative that increases water in the colon. The combined effect clears out the bowels. Full bowel cleansing usually occurs within 3 to 6 hours or less.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. 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.

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How should I use this medication?

The usual dose depends on age and weight. The usual adult dose is 2 sachets 6 to 8 hours apart the day before the exam or surgery. The usual dose for children ages 1 to 6 years is ¼ sachet in the morning and ¼ sachet in the afternoon (6 to 8 hours later) the day before the procedure. For children ages 6 to 12 the usual dose is ½ sachet in the morning and ½ sachet in the afternoon (6 to 8 hours later) the day before the procedure.

The day before your procedure, dissolve one dose into 150 mL of water. The exact hour you should take this depends on what time your procedure is scheduled for, and your doctor will give you specific instructions. The second dose is dissolved in 150 mL water 6 to 8 hours later.

It is important to drink 1.5 L to 2 L of clear fluids (water; sports drinks; clear fruit juices such as apple, grape, or cranberry juice; broths) between doses: Drink about 250 mL of water each hour after each dose until the effects of the medication have worn off and bowel movements have stopped.

In preparation for a procedure, your doctor may give you additional dietary restrictions and adjust other medication use. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Many things can affect the dose of 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 recommended 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.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

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.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Orange-flavoured sachets
Each sachet contains 10 mg of sodium picosulfate, 3.5 g of magnesium oxide, and 12 g of citric acid. Nonmedicinal ingredients: natural orange flavour, potassium bicarbonate, and sodium saccharin.

Cranberry-flavoured sachets
Each sachet contains 10 mg of sodium picosulfate, 3.5 g of magnesium oxide, and 12 g of citric acid. Nonmedicinal ingredients: natural cranberry flavour, potassium bicarbonate, and sodium saccharin.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to picosulfate sodium, magnesium oxide, citric acid, or any ingredients of the medication
  • have acute conditions in the abdomen area that require surgery (e.g., acute appendicitis)
  • have congestive heart failure
  • have gastric retention (where stomach contents aren't moved to the small intestine)
  • have a gastrointestinal obstruction or perforation
  • have ileus (a partial or completely blocked bowel)
  • have nausea and vomiting
  • have severely reduced kidney function
  • have toxic colitis or toxic megacolon (a complication of gastrointestinal conditions where the colon expands)
  • have ulcers



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