The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it is permitting the restricted use of Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate) under a treatment investigational new drug (IND) protocol to treat irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) and chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) in women younger than 55 who meet specific guidelines.
On March 30, 2007, the FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients that Novartis has agreed to discontinue marketing Zelnorm, a drug used for the short-term treatment of women with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation and for patients younger than 65 years of age with chronic constipation. FDA analysis of safety data pooled from 29 clinical trials involving over 18,000 patients showed an excess number of serious cardiovascular adverse events, including angina, heart attacks, and stroke, in patients taking Zelnorm compared to patients given placebo.
The FDA issued this public health advisory to inform patients and health care professionals that the sponsor of Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate), Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, has agreed to stop selling Zelnorm. Zelnorm is being taken off the market because a new safety analysis has found a higher chance of heart attack, stroke, and worsening heart chest pain that can become a heart attack in patients treated with Zelnorm compared to those treated with a sugar pill they thought was Zelnorm.
The FDA announced the following, effective immediately:
- At FDA's request, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation has agreed to stop selling Zelnorm.
- Patients being treated with Zelnorm should contact their physician to discuss alternative treatments for their condition.
- Patients who are taking Zelnorm should seek emergency medical care right away if they experience severe chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, sudden onset of weakness or difficulty walking or talking or other symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.
Zelnorm is a prescription medication approved for short term treatment of women with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation and for patients younger than 65 years with chronic constipation. In late February and early March 2007, Novartis Pharmaceuticals gave FDA the results of new analyses of 29 clinical studies of Zelnorm for treatment of a variety of gastrointestinal tract conditions; the data from all the studies were combined to assess the chance of side effects on the heart and blood vessels. In each study, patients were assigned at random to either Zelnorm or a sugar pill they thought was Zelnorm. These 29 studies included 11,614 patients treated with Zelnorm and 7,031 treated with a sugar pill. The average age of patients in these studies was 43 years and most patients-88%--were women.