Ask Larry:

Question: My doctor believes I need to be on a medicine to prevent colon cancer, it’s called Lialda. However, our insurance coverage doesn’t have a prescription card and I have to pay out of pocket up to our deductible, which is $2500. Consequently, the $380/month that it would cost me each month until I reach that deductible is not in our family’s budget. Are there any alternatives.

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis back in ’06, and although I only had that initial episode and one this past summer, I have been relatively healthy.

Larry’s Response: First, Lialda is chemically known as meselamine and it is an anti-inflammatory drug, similar to aspirin. It is commonly used to treat mild to moderate ulcerative colitis and to prevent flareups. I was not aware that doctors were using it to prevent cancer.

Actually, I am unable to find evidence that ulcerative colitis causes cancer.

In my experience, ulcers and even irritable bowel disease can be controlled by eating well and using quality probiotics every day. People with severe gastrointestinal disturbances find relief by using very high amounts (200 billion units or more per day) for a week or so, then reducing to a lower amount, in the 40 to 100 billion unit range.

I think using something to improve the activity and health in the gut would be superior to taking a salicylate drug that reduces inflammation. A reasonable amount of probiotic might cost $15 to $50 per month, depending on the amount used. There are no side effects and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t feel better when using it. As I said, there is evidence that even people with severe gastrointestinal problems experience improvement when using probiotics.

I am not permitted to tell you to stop or change any orders your doctor has issued, without first discussing your concerns and getting approval.

Read up on probiotics.