Visicol, a product used for bowel cleansing prior to colonoscopies has been linked to an increased risk of acute phosphate nephropathy.
What is Visicol used for?
Visicol (Oral Sodium Phosphate) is used to clean out the intestines before a colonoscopy procedure. Sodium phosphate is a laxative that works by drawing large amounts of water into the colon, which causes watery bowel movements. This cleans out the intestines so that a doctor can clearly view them during a colonoscopy.
What are the Side Effects of Visicol?
While most Visicol patients will only develop mild, if any, side effects when taking this medication, the following severe side effects have been reported after taking Visicol:
- difficulty urinating
- no bowel movement after use
- rectal bleeding
- kidney failure
- severe allergic reaction
- acute phosphate nephropathy
If you’ve been taking Visicol and begin noticing negative changes in your health, seek emergency medical attention to prevent further damage immediately.
Visicol Acute Phosphate Nephropathy
To date, the FDA has confirmed that at least 21 Visicol users have developed the life-threatening side effect known as acute phosphate nephropathy (also referred to as nephrocalcinosis). This is a kidney condition that occurs when calcium phosphate crystals deposit in the renal tubes. In severe cases, nephrocalcinosis can permanently damage kidney function and lead to complete kidney failure and/or death.
FDA Black Box Warning on Visicol
In December 2008, the FDA issued a MedWatch Safety Alert titled “Oral Sodium Phosphate (OSP) Products for Bowel Cleansing: reports of acute phosphate nephropathy, Boxed Warning to be added to labeling.” They required label changes on Visicol, OsmoPrep, and Fleet Phospho-Soda.
The FDA stated that it was taking action because it had become aware of reports of acute phosphate nephropathy associated with the use of OSPs like Visicol. Additionally, some of these cases of acute phosphate nephropathy cases occurred in patients who did not have any pre-existing, identifiable factors that would have put them at risk for developing this condition.
Danger: OTC Oral Sodium Phosphate Products
In addition to the warning about Visicol, the FDA has also indicated that they are equally concerned about the use of over-the-counter oral sodium phosphate products such as Fleet Phospho-soda, which could cause kidney damage when used at higher doses for bowel cleansing. Therefore, the FDA has recommended that Fleet Phospho-soda and other over-the-counter products not be used for bowel cleansing.