The FDA Approves A Drug To Treat Chronic Constipation

Nearly 40 million Americans are suffering from irregularity. Surprised? You shouldn't be. One of the most common healthcare problems today is also the least talk about. But now, the Food and Drug Administration as approved a drug to treat chronic constipation. Dr. Lawrence Schiller with Baylor University Medical Center says chronic constipation is one of the leading gastrointestinal complaints in the nation.

"Many patients with chronic constipation have a variety of problems that are quite disabling for them. They involve patients of all ages and can cause great disability for prolonged periods of time."

Chronic constipation accounts for more than 5.7 million annual visits to doctor's offices, nearly 600,000 emergency room visits and more than 300,000 hospitalizations. Yet, nearly half of all sufferers, like Meagan, are not satisfied with standard treatment options.

"For the past two years I really feel as though I have tried everything. I've altered my diet, I keep an active, healthy lifestyle, and I've taken high fiber food and supplements. And some of these have helped, but my symptoms have not gone away completely."

An advisory committee to the FDA voted in favor of an indication for the prescription drug Zelnorm for treating chronic constipation with specific labeling regarding age and gender. Dr. Schiller says Zelnorm already is approved for treating women with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS with constipation.

"Zelnorm actually stimulates the colon, and this is a novel method of causing the relief of the many symptoms of constipation."

the FDAa generally follows the advice of its advisory committees, although the agency is not bound by its recommendation. If approved, Zelnorm will be the first prescription medication for the treatment of chronic constipation.