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Colorectal Dis. 2014 Mar;16 Suppl 1:59-66. doi: 10.1111/codi.12546.

Libertas: rationale and study design of a multicentre, Phase II, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled investigation to evaluate the efficacy, safety and tolerability of locally applied NRL001 in patients with faecal incontinence.

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Gastroenterology Unit, CHU Pontchaillou, Rennes, France.



Faecal incontinence affects up to 8% of adults. Associated social isolation and subsequent depression can have devastating effects on quality of life (QoL). Faecal incontinence is an underreported health problem as the social isolation and stigma that patients experience makes it difficult for sufferers to discuss their condition with a physician. There have been few well-designed, placebo-controlled clinical trials of treatment for faecal incontinence and little clinical evidence is available to inform the most appropriate management strategies. Libertas, a robustly designed study will investigate the efficacy and safety of NRL001 (1R,2S-methoxamine), an α1 -adrenoceptor agonist, in the treatment of faecal incontinence.


Libertas is a multicentre, Phase II, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, parallel group study. Patient recruitment took place across 55 study centres in Europe. Patients suffering with faecal incontinence were randomised into four groups (approximately 110 each) to receive once daily self-administered doses of NRL001 (5, 7.5 or 10 mg or placebo in a suppository formulation) for 8 weeks. The primary objective of Libertas is to assess the impact of once daily administration of NRL001 on the severity and frequency of incontinence episodes as assessed by the Wexner score at 4 weeks, compared with placebo. Secondary outcomes include measures of efficacy of NRL001 compared with placebo following 8 weeks treatment; safety and tolerability; evaluation of plasma pharmacokinetics; establishment of any pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationship to adverse events; dose-response relationship; the efficacy of NRL001 therapy at 4 and 8 weeks assessed by the Vaizey score; and QoL using the Faecal Incontinence Quality of Life and the EQ-5D-5L Healthcare Questionnaires following 4 and 8 weeks NRL001 therapy. Overall patient satisfaction with the treatment will also be evaluated.


This is the first randomised controlled study to investigate the efficacy and safety of a selective α1 -adrenoceptor agonist for the treatment of faecal incontinence. Furthermore, this is the first time the impact of NRL001 on assessments of QoL, health outcomes and patient satisfaction will be assessed. Innovative strategies were developed to meet the challenge of recruiting patients for this study, for example, media advertising, posters and mailshots as allowed by each study centre.


Libertas study; NRL001; faecal incontinence; α1-adrenoceptor agonist

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