Aminosalicylate Drugs

A group of drugs used to reduce persistent inflammation of the intestines

Common drugs

  • Balsalazide

  • Mesalazine

  • Olsalazine

  • Sulfasalazine

Aminosalicylates are a group of anti-inflammatory drugs, chemically related to aspirin, that are used to treat persistent inflammation of the digestive tract. They work by suppressing the body’s production of prostaglandins, which are naturally occurring chemicals that trigger tissue inflammation. Aminosalicylates are often used to treat Crohn’s disease, in which there is inflammation of parts of the digestive tract. They are also given to treat ulcerative colitis, in which only the large intestine is inflamed. The drugs can also be used to help to prevent attacks of these conditions.

Aminosalicylates are usually taken orally but may be given as enemas or suppositories if inflammation mainly affects the lower part of the large intestine. Treatment is started with a high dose. Dosage is then reduced to a lower level for long-term use.

What are the side effects?

Aminosalicylates can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, rashes, and diarrhoea. Taking these drugs can also sometimes cause increased susceptibility to infections or abnormal bleeding.


If you are taking aminosalicylates, you should report any sign of infection, such as a sore throat, or any unusual bleeding or bruising to your doctor immediately.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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