Ursodeoxycholic acid

Sounds like 'er-so-dee-ox-ee-kol-ik ass-id'

Ursodeoxycholic acid is used to treat liver and bile duct problems. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Ursodeoxycholic acid is also called Ursosan.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Medicine for liver and bile duct problems
  • Ursosan®

What is ursodeoxycholic acid?

Ursodeoxycholic acid is used to treat liver and bile duct problems such as primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and cystic fibrosis-related cholestasis


  • In New Zealand ursodeoxycholic acid is available as capsules (250 mg).
  • The dose of ursodeoxycholic acid will be different for different people. The dose depends on your condition and your body weight. Your doctor will tell you how much to take.
  • Ursodeoxycholic acid is usually taken once a day.
  • Always take ursodeoxycholic acid exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.

How to take ursodeoxycholic acid

  • Swallow your capsules whole with a glass of water. Do not open the capsules and take the contents. This medicine is quite bitter.
  • Timing: Ursodeoxycholic acid is usually taken once a day. Take your ursodeoxycholic acid capsules at about the same time each day.
  • Other medicines: If you need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines or antacids, take these at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after your dose of ursodeoxycholic acid.
  • Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember but if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take 2 doses at the same time. 

What are the side effects of ursodeoxycholic acid?

Like all medicines, ursodeoxycholic acid can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Runny poos (diarrhoea)
  • These are quite common when you first start taking ursodeoxycholic acid and usually go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Vomiting (being sick)
  • Tell your doctor.
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as skin rash, itching, swelling of your lips, face and mouth, or difficulty breathing
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline free on 0800 611 116.
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product


Ursodeoxycholic acid may interact with a few medicines and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting ursodeoxycholic acid and before starting any new medicines.

Learn more

The following links have more information on ursodeoxycholic acid:

Ursodeoxycholic acid NZ Formulary Patient Information


  1. Ursodeoxycholic acid NZ Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Maya Patel, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 01 Aug 2021