Golytely vs Suprep

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For patients preparing for a colonoscopy, certain drugs that help cleanse the bowel can assist in obtaining clear visibility and accurate results during the procedure. Golytely and Suprep are two such medications commonly used for this purpose. They each aid in emptying the contents of the colon but do so with slightly different mechanisms of action and preparation procedures. Golytely is an osmotic laxative that works by causing water to be retained within the stool, thus producing a watery bowel movement to flush out the system. It is often prepared as a large volume solution, which requires significant fluid intake prior to your procedure. On other hand, Suprep is also an osmotic laxative but it comes in smaller volumes making it easier for some patients to tolerate due to less liquid consumption requirement overall.

What is Golytely?

Golytely (polyethylene glycol) and Suprep (sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate, and magnesium sulfate), are both bowel preparations used prior to a colonoscopy procedure. Golytely was one of the earliest solutions developed for this purpose. It works by flooding the intestines with a large volume of liquid that flushes out the stool, effectively "trapping" it in the solution for quicker elimination from the body. This medication is known for its high volume requirement - typically four liters - which can be difficult for some patients to consume.

On the other hand, Suprep was approved by FDA later, offering an alternative solution with less volume intake – around half at two liters mixed with additional water consumption separately. The active ingredients in Suprep act as osmotic laxatives drawing water into your bowels which helps induce bowel movements. Both medications are effective but have different side effect profiles; while Golytely may cause bloating and nausea due to its large volume intake, Suprep might lead to potential dehydration if adequate clear liquids aren’t consumed alongside.

What conditions is Golytely approved to treat?

Golytely is approved for use in the following scenarios:

  • Bowel cleansing prior to procedures such as colonoscopy
  • Treatment of occasional constipation
  • Clearing out your intestines before surgery or a bowel examination

Suprep, on the other hand, is specifically used for:

  • Bowel preparation before colonoscopy.

How does Golytely help with these illnesses?

Golytely aids in bowel preparation for colonoscopies by inducing a powerful diarrhea to cleanse the large intestine. It does this by drawing water into the intestinal lumen, keeping it there and thus promoting a rapid transit of bowel contents through the gut. The active ingredients include polyethylene glycol (a form of laxative), electrolytes like sodium sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, and potassium chloride which help maintain electrolyte balance during extensive fluid loss.

Just like Golytely, Suprep also prepares your bowels for medical procedures such as colonoscopy. This medication works as an osmotic laxative - that is, it helps you have bowel movements by retaining water in your stools while increasing stool frequency. The result is a thorough cleansing of the intestines.

While both medications perform similar functions and are taken orally mixed with water or another clear liquid, they differ slightly in dosage instructions: typically Golytely involves consuming a larger volume at once whereas Suprep splits its doses into two smaller volumes.

What is Suprep?

Suprep is a brand name for a bowel prep kit that contains sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate, and magnesium sulfate. It works as an osmotic laxative, meaning it draws water into the colon to induce bowel movements. Suprep was approved by the FDA in 2010. The main difference between Suprep and other types of bowel prep solutions like Golytely is that it requires a smaller volume of liquid to be consumed—about half as much—which can make the preparation process less daunting for many patients preparing for colonoscopy procedures. However, due to its mechanism of action increasing electrolyte and fluid loss from the body, potential side effects include nausea, bloating and possible dehydration if not adequately managed with additional water intake during use. Its effect on electrolyte balance differentiates its side-effect profile from other commonly used pre-colonoscopy drugs such as Golytely.

What conditions is Suprep approved to treat?

Suprep is a bowel prep kit used for cleansing of the colon as a preparation for colonoscopy. It's approved by the FDA to be used in adults and pediatric patients aged 12 years and older. The benefits include:

  • A lower volume requirement than some other preparations, which may make it easier to consume
  • Split dosing, with part taken the evening before and part taken the morning of your procedure, which can lead to more effective cleaning of the colon.

How does Suprep help with these illnesses?

Suprep is a type of colon-cleansing solution that works by pulling large amounts of water into the colon, which then stimulates bowel movements. This action clears stool from the intestines to allow for clearer imaging during a colonoscopy. The active ingredients in Suprep are sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate, and magnesium sulfate, which all contribute to this osmotic effect. Unlike Golytely, which requires patients to consume large volumes of liquid (up to 4 liters), Suprep has the advantage of having less fluid intake requirement (approximately 2 liters in total). Thus it may be better tolerated by some patients due to its lower volume requirement while still maintaining effectiveness comparable to other bowel preparations like Golytely.

How effective are both Golytely and Suprep?

Both Golytely and Suprep have established histories of effectively preparing the bowel for colonoscopy, a critical aspect of diagnosing intestinal conditions. Approved by the FDA within years of each other, they are both commonly prescribed due to their effectiveness. In a 2012 double-blind clinical trial, both solutions were found to be similarly effective in terms of bowel cleansing quality with slightly more patients preferring Suprep over Golytely due to less volume required.

A review in 2010 highlighted that Golytely is an effective solution for gut cleansing and is generally well-tolerated by most patient populations. It has become one of the most widely used bowel prep solutions worldwide, largely because it was among the first polyethylene glycol-based (PEG) solutions developed, boasting decades of usage and corresponding research data supporting its efficacy. The optimal regimen usually involves ingesting four liters of solution and guarantees extensive bowel cleansing without causing significant shifts in electrolytes or dehydration.

On another hand, a 2017 review indicated that Suprep seems to be as effective as PEG lavage like Golytely while providing advantages such as lower volume requirement which might improve patient compliance. Despite this advantage though, some studies suggest higher risks for renal impairment with sodium sulfate contained in Suprep making it sometimes considered after PEG solutions depending on individual risk factors or comorbidities. Nonetheless given its unique formulation including flavoring agents leading to improved taste compared to traditional PEG solutions like Golytely; certain patients may prefer using it particularly those who find large-volume intake challenging.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Golytely typically prescribed?

Dosages for Golytely typically involve consuming the entire 4-liter solution prior to a colonoscopy, usually in two split doses. Initial consumption of 2 liters is recommended on the evening before the procedure, and then final consumption of 2 liters around four hours prior to the appointment. On the other hand, Suprep involves two separate doses, each consisting of one bottle (6 oz) mixed with cold water up to fill line (16 oz). The first dose is taken in the evening before colonoscopy and second dose should be taken next morning at least six hours before procedure. For both medications it’s important not exceed prescribed amount; consult your healthcare provider for personalized instructions.

At what dose is Suprep typically prescribed?

Suprep bowel preparation is typically initiated the day before your colonoscopy. The kit contains two 6-ounce bottles of Suprep solution and a mixing container. Each dose consists of one bottle mixed with cool water to fill the provided container, taken in split doses. The first dose should be taken in the evening prior to your procedure, followed by drinking two more containers filled with water within an hour. The second dose (the other bottle) is consumed six hours before your procedure, again followed by drinking two additional containers of water over the next hour. As always, follow your doctor's instructions closely regarding timing and diet restrictions associated with this medication.

What are the most common side effects for Golytely?

Common side effects of Golytely might include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal fullness or bloating
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Anal irritation

While, if you take Suprep, some potential side effects can be:

  • Overall discomfort and feelings of malaise (general unwell feeling)
  • Abdominal distention (swelling), pain or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache -Bloating

Remember that these colon-cleansing solutions are intended to cause diarrhea to clean out your colon. If any other side effect persists or worsens, consult with your healthcare provider immediately.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Golytely?

When comparing Golytely to Suprep, it's important to be aware that both are generally well-tolerated but can have side effects. Potential serious side effects may include:

  • Allergic reactions: skin rash or hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat
  • Signs of electrolyte imbalance: dizziness, fainting, fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat
  • Kidney problems: changes in the amount of urine produced
  • Unusual decrease in urination
  • Seizures

In addition to these symptoms which require immediate medical attention you may also experience less severe side effects such as bloating, nausea and stomach cramps. While these are typically temporary if they persist or worsen consult with a healthcare professional. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and individual responses can vary significantly so always closely follow your healthcare provider's instructions when taking either drug.

What are the most common side effects for Suprep?

Potential side effects of Suprep might include:

  • Nausea or vomiting, stomach cramps
  • Dehydration symptoms such as excessive thirst, little to no urination, severe dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fast heartbeat or palpitations
  • Sleep problems due to frequent bowel movements
  • Mild skin rash
  • Occasional headache and dizziness.

It is important to note that most people using this medication do not have serious side effects. However, a rapid loss of body fluids can occur which can cause dehydration and changes in your body's mineral balance. In very rare instances some people may experience an allergic reaction with symptoms like rash, itching/swelling (especially on face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness and trouble breathing.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Suprep?

While Suprep is generally safe, there are some potential serious side effects that you should watch for:

  • Allergic reactions such as skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • Breathing problems
  • Chest pain or chest tightness
  • Severe abdominal discomfort and bloating
  • Vomiting up blood or what looks like coffee grounds in your vomit
  • Bloody stools
  • Irregular heartbeat; or even fainting spells

If any of these signs occur while using Suprep it's important to immediately stop usage and seek medical advice. Remember that everyone reacts differently to medications so it's crucial to stay vigilant about changes in your body when starting a new regimen.

Contraindications for Golytely and Suprep?

Both Golytely and Suprep, like many other bowel prep medications, can cause uncomfortable side effects such as bloating, nausea or stomach cramps. If you notice these symptoms intensifying to a severe degree, seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Golytely nor Suprep should be taken if you have gastrointestinal obstruction or gastric retention. Always inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are currently taking; certain drugs may interact negatively with these colon-cleansing solutions.

If you suffer from kidney disease or heart problems, discuss this with your doctor before starting either of these treatments as they can affect electrolyte balance in the body and exacerbate existing conditions. Similarly, elderly patients or those who are particularly dehydrated must exercise caution when using Golytely and Suprep due to potential risks of fluid imbalance.

How much do Golytely and Suprep cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for a single dose pack of Golytely ranges between $30 and $70, which is typically used over one day as part of preparation for colonoscopy.
  • A single Suprep Bowel Prep Kit costs about $110 to $130, also used typically over one day.

This means that if you are preparing for a procedure such as colonoscopy, using brand-name Golytely would be less expensive than Suprep. However, this should not be your primary consideration in choosing between these two meds; effectiveness and tolerance should always come first.

As for generic versions:

  • Polyethylene Glycol 3350 (the active ingredient in Golytely) can cost around $15 to $45 per bottle depending on the store or pharmacy where it is purchased.
  • As yet there's no widely available generic version of Suprep. This contributes to its higher price compared with generic polyethylene glycol 3350-based products.

Popularity of Golytely and Suprep

Golytely, with its generic form polyethylene glycol 3350 and electrolytes, is a commonly prescribed bowel prep medication used to cleanse the intestines before procedures such as colonoscopies. In 2020, approximately 1 million prescriptions were filled for Golytely in the US, accounting for around 10% of all bowel prep prescriptions. The usage of Golytely has remained relatively stable over recent years due to its established efficacy and safety record.

On the other hand, Suprep Bowel Prep Kit (sodium sulfate / potassium sulfate / magnesium sulfate) was estimated to have been prescribed to about 2.8 million people in the US in 2020. This accounted for nearly one-third of all bowel prep prescriptions. Suprep's popularity may stem from its smaller volume requirement compared to other preps like Golytely; however it should be noted that this often comes at a higher cost per prescription.


Both Golytely (polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution) and Suprep (sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate, and magnesium sulfate) are used extensively in bowel preparation prior to procedures like colonoscopies. Their effectiveness has been established through numerous clinical trials showing they significantly improve visibility during these procedures compared to non-treatment.

Golytely works by causing a watery diarrhea that cleanses the bowel, while Suprep also induces diarrhea but primarily acts by flushing out the large intestine. The choice between them usually depends on patient preference and physician recommendation.

Golytely is often chosen for its mild flavor and lower cost as it's available in generic form. However, it requires consuming a larger volume of liquid which some patients find challenging. On the other hand, Suprep offers a smaller volume requirement but is more expensive since there's no generic version available yet.

In terms of side effects, both can cause bloating, nausea or stomach cramps but these symptoms generally subside once the procedure is completed. It’s crucial that patients maintain good hydration when taking either medication due to their dehydrating effect from inducing diarrhea.