Balsalazide is superior to mesalamine in the time to improvement of signs and symptoms of acute mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis

Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Dec;97(12):3078-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2002.07103.x.


Objective: Balsalazide is a novel azo-bonded 5-aminosalicylic acid treatment for mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis. The study objective was to compare symptomatic remission rates with balsalazide and mesalamine while controlling for extent of disease and time since diagnosis in patients with active, mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis.

Methods: A total of 173 patients with sigmoidoscopically verified ulcerative colitis were randomized to 8 wk of double-blind treatment with balsalazide 6.75 g/day or mesalamine 2.4 g/day. Both treatments provided 2.4 g/day of oral 5-aminosalicylic acid. Patients maintained symptom diaries throughout the treatment period.

Results: Overall, 46% of balsalazide- and 44% of mesalamine-treated patients achieved symptomatic remission. Higher response rates were noted in newly diagnosed patients with < or = 40 cm of disease (68% vs 61%) than in recently relapsed patients with >40 cm of disease (36% vs 25%). The median time to symptomatic remission was 12 days shorter with balsalazide (25 days) than with mesalamine (37 days). Significantly more balsalazide patients showed sigmoidoscopic (p = 0.002), stool frequency (p = 0.006), rectal bleeding (p = 0.006), and physician's global assessment score (p = 0.013) improvement by 14 days than did mesalamine patients. Similar proportions of patients reported adverse events (54% vs 64%), which were most commonly related to the gastrointestinal and central and peripheral nervous systems.

Conclusions: Balsalazide is an effective and safe treatment for mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis. Improvement of symptoms occurs considerably earlier with balsalazide than with mesalamine.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aminosalicylic Acids / adverse effects
  • Aminosalicylic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / physiopathology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Mesalamine / adverse effects
  • Mesalamine / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenylhydrazines
  • Safety
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Aminosalicylic Acids
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Phenylhydrazines
  • Mesalamine
  • balsalazide