How effective are aminosalicylates?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
Aminosalicylates are often a first choice for treatment of mild or moderate ulcerative colitis (UC). Different forms of these drugs can target specific parts of the colon or rectum and are often used together. Aminosalicylates are recommended both for treating active disease and for maintenance therapy to prevent relapse for people in remission. People with UC who take aminosalicylates to remain in remission have lower rates of colon cancer.

Aminosalicylates are not approved by the FDA for treating Crohn's disease. But these drugs (usually sulfasalazine) are sometimes used to treat people with mild disease in the colon. The little research on using these drugs to treat Crohn's disease suggests that they are less effective than corticosteroids. They are sometimes given to people who can't take corticosteroids. Aminosalicylates are not usually recommended for maintaining remission, except after surgery.

While aminosalicylate treatment has been studied less for children with IBD than for adults, these drugs are often used for children with UC. As with adults, they are used both for active disease and for maintaining remission. They are used much less often for children with Crohn's disease. They are sometimes given to children with mild active disease or to children in remission after surgery to prevent relapse. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.