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Drug Shows Little Benefit for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Last Updated: January 06, 2010.

The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram does not relieve symptoms or improve quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome better than placebo, according to a study in the January issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram does not relieve symptoms or improve quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) better than placebo, according to a study in the January issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Uri Ladabaum, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues randomly assigned 54 nondepressed patients with IBS to citalopram or placebo for eight weeks.

The researchers found that the response rate was similar in the citalopram and placebo groups (44 versus 56 percent; odds ratio, 0.80 for weekly response with citalopram), regardless of IBS subtype. Citalopram was not associated with improved symptoms or disease-associated quality of life. Changes in disease-associated quality of life and pressure eliciting pain were modestly correlated, while there was no substantial correlation between symptoms, disease-associated quality of life, and rectal sensitivity.

"In conclusion, in this study citalopram was not superior to placebo in treating nondepressed patients with IBS, and changes in clinical symptoms were not correlated substantially with changes in rectal sensation," Ladabaum and colleagues write. "Considering all available evidence, any benefit of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors compared with placebo in nondepressed patients with IBS is likely to be modest at best."

Ladabaum reported being a speaker for Novartis, Sucampo, and Takeda.

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