Existing and emerging therapies for managing constipation and diarrhea

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Abstract

Functional bowel disorders (i.e., constipation and diarrhea) are characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, distention, and/or bowel habit abnormalities in the absence of obvious anatomic or physiologic abnormalities on routine diagnostic tests. These symptoms are attributable to gastrointestinal sensorimotor dysfunctions resulting from peripheral and/or central mechanisms. Available drugs target the underlying bowel disturbance (i.e., constipation, diarrhea, or both), supplemented when necessary by management of pain. Osmotic and stimulant laxatives, secretagogues, and serotonin 5-HT4 receptor agonists are approved for treating constipation. Loperamide, anticholinergic agents, rifaximin, bile-acid binding agents, eluxadoline, and clonidine are used to treat diarrhea. Several exciting new compounds, some of which have been evaluated in humans, are currently under development.

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