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What is Canasa?


Canasa is a rectal suppository that is manufactured by Abbvie and distributed by Allergan. It is used for treating inflammatory bowel diseases, such as active ulcerative proctitis or ulcerative colitis in adults. Ulcerative proctitis and colitis cause inflammation, redness, and ulcers in the rectum's lining at the end of the large intestine. Canasa works by reducing inflammation in the epithelial cells that line the colon.

How does Canasa work?

Canasa contains mesalamine (5-aminosalicylic acid), which is an anti-inflammatory drug that works by reducing inflammation in the epithelial cells that line the colon. Mesalamine is believed to work by blocking the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme which inhibits prostaglandin production in your colon. Prostaglandins and COX enzymes are both thought to be involved in triggering an inflammatory response.

Canasa is formulated as a suppository that is inserted into the rectum and melts at body temperature, releasing the active ingredient into the area where it needs to work.

What doses of Canasa are available?

The typical dose of Canasa is 1000 mg given rectally once daily at bedtime for 3 to 6 weeks. The safety and effectiveness of using Canasa after 6 weeks have not been established.

How do you use Canasa?

Before using Canasa, you should follow all directions given by your healthcare provider as well as the directions on your prescribing information and medication guide. The suppository should be used rectally and is usually inserted once daily at bedtime.

To use Canasa, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Unwrap the suppository right before you intend to use it. Handle the suppository as little as possible as heat from your fingers can make it melt. With your right knee bent, lie down on your left side. Gently insert the suppository with it pointed end first into your rectum. You can use a small amount of lubricating gel on the suppository tip if needed. Remain lying down for a few minutes.

It is important to avoid having a bowel movement for 1 to 3 hours so that the suppository stays in place and gives it a chance to work. If you have missed a dose, you can take the medication as soon as you remember or skip the missed dose if it’s almost time for your next one.

What are the possible side effects of Canasa?

The most common side effects of Canasa in clinical trials compared to placebo include:

  • Fever

  • Rectal pain (including insertion)

  • Acne

  • Rash

  • Stomach pain

  • Gas

  • Diarrhea

  • Increased sun sensitivity  

Rarely, Canasa may cause some serious side effects, including:

  • Symptoms of kidney problems or kidney failure, including

    • Dark urine or changes in the amount of urine

    • Kidney stones

  • Rectal bleeding or bloody diarrhea

  • Hepatic (liver) problems with symptoms such as

    • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin/eyes)

    • Flu-like symptoms

    • Itchy skin

    • Feeling very tired

    • Nausea and vomiting

  • Symptoms of an allergic reaction or acute intolerance syndrome, including:

    • Swollen lymph nodes

    • Skin rash or blisters

    • Fever

    • Swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat

    • Shortness of breath

    • Chest pain or tightness

Contact your healthcare professional for medical advice about any possible adverse effects you experience while taking Canasa. You can report your adverse effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or

Canasa drug interactions

When Canasa is taken with other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements, it may change how they work or increase the frequency or severity of side effects. Some drug interactions with Canasa include:

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), including:

    • Ibuprofen

    • Naproxen

    • Aspirin

  •  Azathioprine

  • Metrizamide

  • Tenofovir

  • 6-mercaptopurine

Canasa precautions

You should be sure that your healthcare provider is aware of all your medical conditions, including if you have:

  • Allergies to Azulfidine (sulfasalazine)

  • Allergies to salicylates

  • A history of kidney or liver problems

  • A history of pericarditis

  • A history of renal impairment or renal disease

  • Skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema

  • Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant

  • Are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed 

  • Are using a different mesalamine suppository

Is there a generic available for Canasa?

Yes, there is a generic available for Canasa in the United States. 

How do you store Canasa?

Be sure you store Canasa away from moisture and at room temperature around 25° C (77° F) in its original packaging, as the suppository dissolves with heat. Keep this medication out of reach of pets and children.

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