Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Kirstie Marshall to launch breakthrough treatment for irritable bowel syndrome

Around a million Australian women could benefit from today's launch of a new prescription medicine offering symptomatic relief of stomach pain / discomfort, bloating and constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

ZelmacŪ (tegaserod) - the first medicine of its kind designed to treat the multiple symptoms of IBS in women - is now available on private prescription.

According to Dr John Kellow, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney and Gastroenterologist at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney: "Zelmac represents the most promising prescription treatment for many years for those affected by IBS with constipation, who have found dietary, lifestyle changes and other currently available remedies, to be of little benefit.

"Now with Zelmac we have a single medicine that appears to improve the three major symptoms of IBS simultaneously - stomach pain, bloating and constipation. Other available medications target only one symptom," he said.

A recent national AC Nielsen survey has found IBS negatively affects the private, working or sex lives of approximately 2.2 million sufferers. Yet there is a general lack of understanding of the condition among these people. While eight in ten frequent sufferers of IBS symptoms have heard of the condition, only 15 per cent of this group have been formally diagnosed, representing only two per cent of the adult Australian population. Moreover, among those who have actively sought to relieve their symptoms, 27 per cent say their actions have made little, if any, impact1.

Although the exact cause of IBS is unknown, there is a long-held suspicion that the condition is simply "all in the head." However Dr Kellow debunks this theory.

"IBS is a genuine bowel disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, where the nerves and muscles of the bowel become oversensitive, causing stomach pain or discomfort, bloating and irregularity. Symptoms can then be triggered by eating, stress and hormonal changes."

"The symptoms are often chronic, range from mild, to moderate and severe, and can have a significant impact upon sufferers' quality of life. In fact, women are twice as likely as men to experience these symptoms," he said.

Three-time Olympian and World Champion aerial skier, Kirstie Marshall, 32, has suffered from the symptoms of IBS - stomach pain, bloating and constipation - for the past 10 years. She welcomes the availability of a new treatment for this common, yet debilitating bowel disorder.

"A real and effective solution for people with this condition is long overdue. Zelmac will allow IBS sufferers to regain control of their lives."

When competing as an elite athlete, IBS caused many problems for Kirstie. She said: "With IBS, especially in winter sports when you are a long way from anywhere, you need a sense of trust that you are in control of your bowel movements. But with IBS, you don't have that faith at all. In fact, you're reliant on IBS not striking at a completely inopportune time. And it normally doesn't cooperate that well!"

Prior to consulting her doctor only two years ago and being diagnosed with IBS, Kirstie had spent many frustrating years trying to control her symptoms. "As an athlete, the harder you work, the better the result. But with IBS, it doesn't matter how hard you work. You personally, on your own, won't get the result that you're after," she said.

"That's why it's so important to seek help from your doctor in managing your symptoms because potential relief is now available."

According to Dr Kellow, IBS, particularly when in its severe form, is a debilitating disorder and the second cause of workplace absenteeism behind the common cold. "Its impact on quality of life can be equal to other chronic disorders, such as asthma or migraine," he said. "However people with IBS often suffer in silence because of their reluctance to discuss their bowel habits and pain."

Kirstie is therefore suggesting that people with uncontrolled IBS symptoms see their doctor and take control:
"Because IBS can only be diagnosed by a doctor, it's important to ask your doctor for the latest treatment for this genuine condition."

People seeking further information about how to better manage and treat their condition can visit the Irritable Bowel Information and Support Association (IBIS) of Australia at

Zelmac is useful for women whose main symptoms include stomach pain / discomfort, bloating and constipation.

The most common side-effect of Zelmac is diarrhoea, however this is generally mild and usually lasts a few days. Around one in 10 women who take Zelmac may get diarrhoea.

Zelmac is to be taken as one tablet twice a day with a glass of water before food for as long as recommended by a doctor. The product is manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

1 Random national AC Nielsen survey conducted by telephone during April 2002 among a representative sample of 1,029 Australians aged 18 and above. The results have been weighted to population estimates and therefore reflect the opinion of approximately 14.9 million adults.

** Kirstie Marshall reflects on her personal experience with IBS - CLICK HERE**
** CLICK HERE to read FAQ about irritable bowel syndrome with Dr John Kellow **

May 28th, 2002