The FDA has recently approved a new medication for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with constipation in women who are 18 and over. Before the approval of Amitiza, there were no FDA approved treatments available for IBS in the United States.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder characterized by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress to its sufferers. It affects at least twice as many women as men.
Julie Beitz, M.D., director of the Office of Drug Evaluation III, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA stated in the press release that was issued:
“For some people IBS can be quite disabling, making it difficult for them to fully participate in everyday activities. This drug represents an important step in helping to provide medical relief from their symptoms.”
The safety and efficacy of Amitiza was established in two major studies involving 1,154 patients diagnosed with IBS-C. The majority of the patients studied were women (approximately 8 percent were men). Patients enrolled in the studies were experiencing at least mild abdominal discomfort or pain that was associated with at least two of the following additional symptoms: 1) fewer than 3 spontaneous bowel movements per week (that did not result from laxative use); 2) hard stools; or 3) moderate or severe straining with bowel movements. In the studies some patients received Amitiza and others were given a placebo. More patients treated with Amitiza reported that their IBS symptoms were moderately or significantly relieved over a 12 week treatment period than patients who received placebo. The safety of long term treatment was assessed in a study in which all patients were treated with Amitiza for a duration that ranged 9 to 13 months. The efficacy of Amitiza in men was not conclusively demonstrated for IBS-C.
Common side effects of Amitiza include nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Other rare side effects include urinary tract infections, dry mouth, syncope (fainting), peripheral edema (swelling of the extremities), dyspnea (difficulty breathing), and heart palpitations.
Amitiza should be taken twice-a-day in 8 microgram doses with food and water. Patients and their health care professionals should periodically assess the need for continued therapy.