• Welcome to Crohn's Forum, a support group for people with all forms of IBD. While this community is not a substitute for doctor's advice and we cannot treat or diagnose, we find being able to communicate with others who have IBD is invaluable as we navigate our struggles and celebrate our successes. We invite you to join us.

Is it safe to use generic mesalamine?

My husband's health insurance is very poor and we cannot afford to pay out of pocket for Asacol. His doctor suggested that we buy Asacol from Canada through a reputable pharmacy. It appears that some pharmacies also offer generic mesalamine made in India. Does anyone here know if it is safe to buy this generic? It would really help our budget but I don't want him to take something that could harm him.

Thanks in advance!


Naples, Florida
I'd be a little weary. It COULD be perfectly fine but the thing about mesalamine is it is specifically formulated to release in a specific area of your intestinal tract. For example, Pentasa will release in a manner that treats most of your intestinal tract from your duodenum to your colon. Conversely, Lialda is specifically formulated to be released in the colon. The science behind this is pretty advanced and I'd be worried that a generic from India wasn't getting it right. I have zero evidence this would be the case, it would just be a concern of mine. If you do go with a generic, make sure it is formulated to release like Asacol since that's what your doctor prescribed.

Welcome to the forum by the way. We're always here for anything you and your husband might need :)


When you buy generic medicine, you're actually buying the EXACT same medicine as you would with the "name brand". Medicine companies are allowed to have a medication on the market for 20 years with no "competition" but after that, the FDA allows generic brands to come out provided they have the exact same medical ingredients. The only thing they alter would be things to add flavor (cough syrups, etc). The only thing that changes is the affitives. They both have the same amounts of each key ingredient.
KWalker, you're right, but one of the key aspects of prescription drugs in the U.S. and Canada is the level of government oversight to ensure the quality is consistent. Not sure about India.
I believe that with mesalazine the actual drug is the same but, as David said, each type has a different coating around it which has specific properties and so releases the drug at different parts of the digestive tract. It is important to make sure that whichever one you are given will be released in the right place or it will not be as effective.
I've been getting generic Asacol (really mesalamine or 5-ASA, to use the generic technical names) from Canada for over 10 years.

It has reduced my cost by over 50% and I really can't tell any difference between the Novopharm 5-ASA that I use (Novopharm being the Canadian pharmaceutical company) and Asacol (which is going off US patent in July 2013, by the way).

I am using CanAmerica as the pharmacy.

Other writers are correct, however, about how the pill's coating varies between different manufacturers.

So while the encapsulated Asacol/mesalamine has to be chemically identical the world over in order to qualify as a generic, apparently the pH-keyed *coating* does not - meaning that each manufacturer's pill may release its mesalamine in different locations in the digestive tract (based on pH variances).

I myself have found that I do better with the Novopharm/Canadian product than British/Indian products but I would bet that the matter varies by individual.

Try Googling "pH" and "mesalamine" - I believe there are a few internet pages that specify which pH each manufacturer's pills are optimized for. Your doctor might help with this.

Alternatively, you could try trial and error.

Good luck.
I have been buying asacol from Canada for the last year.
saves my family up to 70 percent over the cost of US drugs
Just started to buy the generic from India. Seems to work just find
and saves even more money.
The drug from India is made buy Sun Pharma the 5th largest drug co in the world
Sun Pharma has other FDA approved generic drugs on the US market now.
But remember this The US government passed and President Obama signed into
law FDA Safety and inovaton Act S.3187 this is not bad but Section 708 says
"The Government has the authority to destroy personally imported drugs at there point of entry" At this point the law will be ignored until after the election and then the Sec of Human services must write the rules. they have up to 2 years to do this
Check out RxRights.org for more information