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Summary

Background : Irritable bowel syndrome is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder which affects up to 20% of the population, with a predominance in females.

Aim : To evaluate the efficacy and safety of tegaserod in female patients with irritable bowel syndrome characterized by symptoms of abdominal pain/discomfort and constipation.

Methods : In a randomized, double-blind, multicentre study, 1519 women received either tegaserod, 6 mg b.d. (n = 767), or placebo (n = 752) for 12 weeks, preceded by a 4-week baseline period without treatment and followed by a 4-week open withdrawal period. The primary efficacy evaluation was the patient's symptomatic response as measured by the Subject's Global Assessment of Relief. Other efficacy variables included abdominal pain/discomfort, bowel habits and bloating.

Results : Tegaserod produced significant (P < 0.05) improvements in the Subject's Global Assessment of Relief and other efficacy variables. These improvements were seen within the first week, and were maintained throughout the treatment period. After withdrawal of treatment, the symptoms rapidly returned. Overall, tegaserod was well tolerated. Diarrhoea was the most frequent adverse event; however, this led to discontinuation in only 1.6% of tegaserod-treated patients.

Conclusions : Tegaserod, 6 mg b.d., produced rapid and sustained improvement of symptoms in female irritable bowel syndrome patients and was well tolerated.