Popular Anti-Constipation Drug Zelnorm Pulled from North American Markets
A popular and widely-prescribed medication used to relieve constipation in women has been pulled off the pharmacy shelves in the United States and Canada at the request of the U.S.-based FDA. The drug, manufactured by the Swiss-based pharmaceutical company, Novartis AG has been linked to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke in women who have been prescribed the drug. It was also discovered that heart related chest pain can evolve into a full blown heart attack more frequently for women taking the drug.
The Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada website has posted a message to Canadian consumers stating that the drug maker has suspended marketing and sales of Zelnorm in Canada at the request of Health Canada.
Zelnorm also known as Tegaserod was developed for the treatment of chronic constipation in women under the age of 65 and for short-term treatment of constipation in women who have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS.
The recall is expected to affect thousands of women in Canada and the U.S. many of whom are reporting no negative side effects from the drug. Recent clinical studies however revealed that thirteen out of 11,000 U.S. patients taking Zelnorm suffered heart attacks, strokes and severe chest pain.
Patients currently taking prescription Zelnorm (Tegaserod) are advised to discuss with their physicians whether or not the drug should be stopped. People taking Zelnorm are also cautioned to seek emergency care if they experience sudden severe chest pain, dizziness and/or shortness of breath.