Generic name: UrsodiolBrand names: Urso 250, Actigall
Actigall is used to help dissolve certain kinds of gallstones. If you suffer from gallstones but do not want to undergo surgery to remove them, or if age, infirmity, or a poor reaction to anesthesia makes you a poor candidate for surgery, Actigall treatment may be a good alternative.
Actigall is also used to prevent gallstones in people on rapid-weight-loss diets. And under the brand name Urso 250, its active ingredient is prescribed to treat liver disease caused by hardening and blockage of the bile ducts (primary biliary cirrhosis).
Actigall is not a quick remedy. It takes months of Actigall therapy to dissolve gallstones; and there is a possibility of incomplete dissolution and recurrence of stones. Your doctor will weigh Actigall against alternative treatments and recommend the best one for you.
Actigall is most effective if your gallstones are small or "floatable" (high in cholesterol). In addition, your gallbladder must still be functioning properly.
Take Actigall exactly as prescribed; otherwise the gallstones may dissolve too slowly or not dissolve at all. During treatment, your doctor will do periodic ultrasound exams to see if your stones are dissolving.
Urso should be taken 4 times a day with food.
Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Actigall.
Do not take these medications if you are sensitive to or have ever had an allergic reaction to ursodiol or to other bile acids.
Actigall will not dissolve certain types of gallstones. If your doctor tells you that your gallstones are calcified cholesterol stones, radio-opaque stones, or radiolucent bile pigment stones, you are not a candidate for treatment with Actigall.
Also, if you have biliary tract (liver, gallbladder, bile duct) problems or certain liver and pancreas diseases, your doctor may not be able to prescribe Actigall for you.
Although Actigall is not known to cause liver damage, it is theoretically possible in some people. Your doctor may run blood tests for liver function before you start to take Actigall and again while you are taking it.
If Actigall or Urso are taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Actigall or Urso with the following:Aluminum-based antacid medicationsCholesterol-lowering medications, such as cholestyramine, clofibrate, colestipol hydrochloride, gemfibrozil, and lovastatinEstrogens such as conjugated estrogensOral contraceptives
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, inform your doctor immediately. So far, there is no evidence that ursodiol can harm an unborn baby; but to be safe, the medication is not recommended during pregnancy. Caution is needed during breastfeeding; it is not known whether ursodiol taken by a nursing mother passes into her breast milk.
The recommended daily dosage is 8 to 10 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of body weight, divided into 2 or 3 doses.
The usual dose in people losing weight rapidly is 300 milligrams twice a day.
Primary biliary cirrhosis
The recommended adult dosage is 13 to 15 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day, divided into 4 small doses taken with food.
Although there have been no reports of overdose with Actigall, the most likely symptom of severe overdose would be diarrhea. Since any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences, you should seek medical attention immediately if you suspect an Actigall overdose.