Clinical Health Updates

PEG more effective than tegaserod for chronic constipation

Clinical Question:
Which is the more effective treatment for chronic constipation, tegaserod or polyethylene glycol?

Bottom Line:
Based on the results of this nonmasked trial, polyethylene glycol (PEG) is more effective, better tolerated, and less expensive in the short-term than tegaserod for the treatment of chronic constipation in adults.

Di Palma JA, Cleveland MV, McGowan J, Herrera JL. A randomized, multicenter comparison of polyethylene glycol laxative and tegaserod in treatment of patients with chronic constipation. Am J Gastroenterol 2007;102:1964-1971.

Study Design:
Randomized controlled trial (nonblinded)

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) 3350 (MiraLax) and tegaserod (Zelnorm), a serotonin subtype 4 receptor partial agonist, are currently approved for treatment of constipation. The authors compared the efficacy of each product over a 4-wk treatment period. They study patients who met defined criteria for chronic constipation were randomized in this open-labeled, parallel, multicenter study to receive the PEG laxative as a single daily dose of 17 g or tegaserod tablets 6 mg b.i.d., for 28 days. As a primary end point, treatment success was defined for each patient as relief of modified ROME criteria for constipation for 50% or more of their treatment weeks. Various secondary measures were also assessed. An interactive voice response system (IVRS) recorded patient reported daily bowel movement experience and study efficacy and safety information. A total of 237 patients were enrolled and received treatment at one of 25 centers. Successful treatment according to the primary end point was seen in 50.0% of the PEG and 30.8% of tegaserod patients (P= 0.003). By treatment weeks 3 and 4, significantly more PEG patients were successfully treated according to primary and secondary response definitions. PEG patients experienced more bowel movements per week (P= 0.019) and had significantly greater improvement in constipation symptoms (P= 0.016) based on results from a validated patient self-reported questionnaire. Tegaserod patients experienced a significantly higher incidence of headaches. Otherwise, there were no significant differences in adverse events.