New drug treatment for constipation sufferers

SINGAPORE - A new treatment is now available in Singapore that can potentially treat chronic constipation sufferers by helping to restore normal bowel function.

Called Resolor, the drug works by activating chemical receptors in the digestive system.

"Resolor is the first of a new class of drugs available that specifically targets the source of the problem and can, therefore, offer more comprehensive normalisation of the bowel function than the more commonly used over-the-counter remedies such as laxatives," said Professor Jan Tack, Professor and Head of Clinic, Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium.

A recently published survey of Singaporean women with chronic constipation revealed that one in every two women were dissatisfied with current treatment options, with non-effectiveness being the most common reason.

Sufferers of chronic constipation usually complain of symptoms that include straining, bloating, feeling "plugged up" and difficulty in passing stools.

However, doctors do not typically confirm a diagnosis based on these symptoms without knowing the frequency of stools, said Janssen, the pharmaceutical company distributing the drug.

As patients are usually more concerned about their symptoms and not stool frequency, there is a significant disconnect that often results in a delayed diagnosis, leaving sufferers frustrated.

Laxatives are currently the most widely used treatment for constipation and readily available as over-the-counter remedies, almost half of people who try them report inadequate relief of symptoms.

A multinational study of 14,000 patients found a higher rate of persistent symptoms among those taking laxatives versus those using non-laxative treatment approaches.

In placebo-controlled studies, almost twice as many patients taking Resolor achieved normalisation of bowel movements compared to those taking the placebo.

The drug also alleviated constipation symptoms, including bloating, straining, stomach pain and discomfort.

The drug has demonstrated a good safety profile. In one study, nearly 90 per cent of elderly nursing home patients with a history of heart disease demonstrated good tolerability towards Resolor.

The most common side effects reported in clinical studies have been headache (22 per cent) and nausea (17 per cent), but these mostly appear at the start of treatment and disappear after a few days of continued treatment, Janssen said.

Resolor is currently approved for use in Australia, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, and more than 40 countries across Europe, Central & South America and the Middle East.