The authors conducted a well-designed, multinational, large study of women younger than 65 yr of age with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with a mixed pattern of diarrhea and constipation (IBS-M) or constipation (IBS-C) and showed that a statistically greater percentage of patients in each group responded to tegaserod compared with patients treated with placebo. Practicality looms large, however, in that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disallowed the continued marketing of tegaserod because of cardiovascular safety concerns, and it now is only available under a restricted access program. The wisdom of this decision aside, it is disturbing that the FDA revealed a zero-tolerance for any significant risk of disease when a drug (e.g., tegaserod) was used for a nonlife-threatening condition; the FDA chose to neglect any potential benefit of significant improvement in quality of life, while at the same time allowing the continued availability of sildenifil for erectile dysfunction and other medications (e.g., rosiglitazone and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs]), each with a far greater risk of cardiovascular complications. Whether tegaserod will be re-released and, if so, under what conditions, is yet to be determined, as is the question of whether the FDA will decide to allow a more transparent decision-making process with input from all interested parties affected by their decision.
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