New drug targets high prevalence of chronic constipation in S'pore

SINGAPORE - About 25 per cent of Singaporeans suffer from chronic constipation, and a new drug been approved by the Health Science Authority which provides an alternative form of relief for those who do not respond to laxatives.

Singaporeans will be the first in South East Asia to have access to Resolor. The drug, which has been proven effective, works differently from laxatives as it not just manages chronic constipation but also helps to normalise bowel function.

According to a previous study, 25.1 per cent of the total population of Singapore have encountered instances of chronic constipation before.

Among people who regularly felt bloated, about 60 per cent had some degree of constipation, said the study, which appeared in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

This makes chronic constipation the most common bowel disturbance among Singaporeans. By comparison just 10 per cent of Singaporeans suffer from chronic diarrhoea.

The study also found chronic constipation was more common among women than men. Those with the highest rate of chronic constipation were men over 70, while the second highest prevalence was among women aged 20 to 29.

In addition, better educated women had significantly higher rates of chronic constipation compared to their less educated counterparts.

"Chronic constipation can have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of the thousands of people who suffer the condition," said Professor Gwee Kok Ann, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Physician at Gleneagles Hospital, who conducted the study.

"Most patients believe chronic constipation only refers to having infrequent bowel movements. However a patient can have chronic constipation if they regularly have hard stools, and have an incomplete feeling after they pass motion," said Prof Gwee, speculating on the cause of many Singaporeans not seeking treatment for the condition.

Treatment of chronic constipation usually involves dietary and lifestyle changes as well as laxatives. However, for some patients even laxatives are insufficient to relieve symptoms of chronic constipation.

Resolor, a prescription-only medicine, is a medication taken once a day, with or without food. It is a prescription-only medicine, so it should only be taken as advised by a medical professional.