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Asacol often came through whole for me. Other times I would just have the pieces.
Turns out the asacol made my diarrhea worse. I only know this because I tried starting it while in remission and got diarrhea. As soon as I discontinued I was fine.
Asacol's the only thing I've ever been on and it's helped. I was afraid it wasn't because I saw the shells and occasionally semi-dissolved whole pills but my GI insisted it was fine. I restarted while I was flaring and it got better so it does seem to help me. I hear a lot of people don't like it though. I do hear you on the shells being painful though...not all the time, but if things are particularly tender then it's pretty unpleasant!