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The Latest Drug Therapies for Treating IBS

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Persistent irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)ó the gastrointestinal disorder marked by symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and/or diarrheaócan impair your quality of life. And no single interventionómedical, dietary or otherórelieves symptoms in all patients. But therapeutic options for symptom relief recently expanded with the Food and Drug Administrationís (FDAís) approval of two new drugs for IBS with diarrhea.

In many cases, you can find relief from IBS symptomsóand the emotional distress that sometimes accompanies the conditionówith a combination of dietary changes, regular exercise and psychological therapy. Some people turn to over-the-counter products like fiber supplements, laxatives or loperamide (Imodium) for symptom relief. Certain prescription drugs like antidepressants and antispasmodics may also improve symptoms. But sometimes these therapies arenít enough or are poorly tolerated, especially in older adults. In these cases, other pharmaceutical interventions may help people who have IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) or constipation (IBS-C), or a combination of both (IBS with mixed symptoms, or IBS-M).

New drugs for IBS with diarrhea

In May, the FDA approved two new drugs to relieve abdominal pain and loose, watery stools to treat IBS-D:

Viberzi (eluxadoline) helps lessen bowel contractions. Because Viberzi contains an active ingredient thatís classified as a controlled substance, the drug must undergo scrutiny by the Drug Enforcement Agency to determine its schedule and isnít expected to be available until early 2016.

Xifaxan (rifaximin) is an antibiotic thought to relieve IBS symptoms by altering bacteria in the gut. Xifaxan is taken three times a day for two weeks. If symptoms return, treatment can be repeated up to two more times.

Another drug, Lotronex (alosetron), was approved in 2000 but was removed from the market by the FDA because of the risk of rare but serious side effects, including severe constipation and ischemic colitis, which can be fatal. It was later reintroduced at a lower starting dose for use only in women with severe IBS-D.

Drugs for IBS with constipation

Two drugs have played a prominent role in helping relieve symptoms in people who have IBS-C and donít respond to basic remedies, such as simple laxatives like polyethylene glycol, or PEG (MiraLax):

Linzess (linaclotide), approved by the FDA in 2012, helps lessen abdominal pain and increase spontaneous bowel movements. Long-term safety and efficacy still need to be established.

Amitiza (lubiprostone) helps promote bowel movements by softening stools. †So far, itís approved only for women who have IBS-C (although itís also approved for men and women with chronic constipation not associated with IBS). Like Linzess, the drugís long-term safety isnít yet known.

If youíre a longtime IBS sufferer and havenít been able to find adequate relief, now may be a good time to revisit your treatment options with your doctor. He or she can help you decide a course of action that may incorporate newer therapies.

Posted in Digestive Health on November 17, 2015


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer


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