A new prescription drug, lubiprostone(Amitiza), has been approved for the treatmentof chronic idiopathic constipation inadults. This capsule form of lubiprostoneincreases the secretion of intestinal fluid,which then eases the passage of stooland alleviates constipation symptoms.Two clinical trials were conducted to testthe drug's efficacy. Patients participatingin the trial had had, on average, fewerthan 3 spontaneous bowel movementsper week and had experienced symptomsof constipation for at least 6months. In the trials, lubiprostone yieldeda higher frequency of bowel movementsin the first week than the placebo. Similarresults continued for weeks 2, 3, and 4.Studies over 6 to 12 months showedthat the drug decreased constipationseverity, abdominal bloating, and discomfort.Common side effects oflubiprostone were headache, nausea,diarrhea, abdominal pain, and distention,which may or may not be associatedwith the drug. It is being marketed bySucampo Pharmaceuticals and TakedaPharmaceuticals America.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.