▴ Lubiprostone is an oral bicyclic fatty acid that selectively activates type 2 chloride channels in the apical membrane of human gastrointestinal epithelial cells, thereby increasing chloride-rich fluid secretion. Although the mechanism is unclear, this may then decrease intestinal transit time, allowing the passage of stool and alleviating symptoms of constipation.
▴ Oral lubiprostone was effective in the treatment of patients with constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C) in large (n = 193–583) phase II (dose-finding) and phase III randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre trials.
▴ The number of patients with IBS-C demonstrating an overall response to treatment (primary endpoint) in the two phase III trials was significantly greater in patients receiving lubiprostone 8 μg twice daily for 3 months than in those receiving placebo. In addition, a randomized, 4-week withdrawal period at the end of one of the phase III trials demonstrated that discontinuation of lubiprostone was not associated with rebound of IBS symptoms.
▴ Lubiprostone was generally well tolerated in clinical trials, with the majority of adverse events being of mild to moderate severity. In patients with IBS-C who received lubiprostone 8 μg twice daily, nausea was the most frequently occurring adverse event that was considered possibly or probably treatment related. No serious treatment-related adverse events were reported in a 36-week open-label extension to the phase III trials.