Benefit-risk assessment of tegaserod in irritable bowel syndrome

Richard Lea, Peter J. Whorwell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Tegaserod is a new partial agonist of serotonin 5-HT4 receptors specifically developed for the treatment of nondiarrhoeal forms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Among its various effects is the stimulation of the peristaltic reflex with its promotility action appearing to affect the whole length of the gastrointestinal tract. Tegaserod has been assessed in a number of international multicentre trials and its use leads to an improvement in abdominal pain and bowel dysfunction as well as global well-being, at the expense of remarkably few adverse effects. It is noteworthy that it also appears to improve bloating, a benefit that has not been previously reported for a medication used in IBS. The optimal dose is 6mg twice daily and the advantage of tegaserod over placebo in different trials varies from 5-20% with the number needed to treat ranging from 5-15 depending on the time at which this effect is calculated during the course of a trial. Recent experience with other drugs acting on 5-HT receptors has focused attention on possible safety issues such as prolongation of the QTc interval on the electrocardiogram and ischaemic colitis. However, data from efficacy trials and studies specifically designed to address the safety of tegaserod have not revealed any evidence of cardiotoxicity or the potential for causing ischaemic colitis. Furthermore, investigation of possible interactions with other drugs such as warfarin or the oral contraceptive have not resulted in any prescribing restrictions. Inappropriate prescription of tegaserod to a subgroup of IBS patients for which the drug was not designed, does not appear to have any serious consequences. Most of the efficacy data on tegaserod has been accumulated in females, simply as a result of the failure to recruit adequate numbers of males or restriction of trials to females. There is therefore insufficient information to assess whether there might be any potential gender differences in responsiveness. For this reason, the drug is currently only licensed for use in females.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)229-242
    Number of pages13
    JournalDrug Safety
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • Animals
    • Clinical Trials
    • Drug Interactions
    • Humans
    • adverse effects: Indoles
    • drug therapy: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
    • Risk Assessment
    • adverse effects: Serotonin Agonists


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