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Drugs. 2003;63(11):1101-20.

Tegaserod: a review of its use in the management of irritable bowel syndrome with constipation in women.

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Adis International Limited, Mairangi Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.


The treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) has historically been based on the severity of symptoms, with education, reassurance, dietary advice, bulking agents and laxative therapy offered as appropriate. Tegaserod (Zelnorm, Zelmac) is the first selective serotonin 5-HT(4) receptor partial agonist to be approved for the treatment of this syndrome. Tegaserod is active against multiple irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms; it stimulates gut motility and reduces visceral sensitivity and pain. The drug does not cure IBS and was not designed to treat the diarrhoea-predominant version. Its efficacy in men has not been established. Three large well designed clinical trials of tegaserod 6 mg twice daily for 12 weeks in patients (mainly women) with IBS-C have demonstrated superiority versus placebo in global relief from symptoms. Global relief response rates were 38.4-46.8% with tegaserod 6 mg twice daily and 28.3-38.8% with placebo (p < 0.05-0.0001 vs placebo). The relative increases in response rates with tegaserod 6 mg twice daily over the already high responses in the placebo groups ranged from 12-65% after 4-12 weeks of treatment. A response was seen within the first week. The proportion of patients with satisfactory relief from symptoms fell over the 4-week period following withdrawal of tegaserod and placebo, but did not reach baseline levels during this time. Diarrhoea has been associated with tegaserod in clinical trials (an incidence of about 10% versus 5% with placebo, usually occurring in the first week of treatment), but the drug is otherwise well tolerated. There were no apparent changes in the tolerability profile with extended tegaserod treatment (</=12 months). In conclusion, oral tegaserod 6 mg twice daily for 12 weeks is effective and well tolerated in the treatment of IBS-C in women. Data on long term and comparative efficacy, cost-effectiveness and quality-of-life effects would be beneficial; however, in light of the fact that very few alternatives for the treatment of IBS-C have proven efficacy, tegaserod appears to be a promising option in women not responding to increased dietary fibre or osmotic laxative therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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