Zelnorm is a prescription medication approved for short term treatment of women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with constipation, and for all patients younger than 65 years with chronic constipation. On March 30, 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that Novartis Pharmaceuticals stop marketing Zelnorm, after a new safety analysis found a higher chance of heart attack, stroke, and chest pain in patients treated with Zelnorm.
Information for Current Zelnorm Users
FDA is currently advising patients who are using Zelnorm to contact their health care providers to discuss treatment alternatives. Patients who are taking Zelnorm should seek emergency medical care if they experience severe chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, sudden onset of weakness or difficulty walking or talking, or other symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. There may be patients for whom no other treatment options are available and in whom the benefits of Zelnorm treatment outweigh the chance of serious side effects. FDA will work with Novartis to allow access to Zelnorm for those patients through a special program.
Study Finds Health Risks
In late February and early March 2007, Novartis Pharmaceuticals gave FDA the results of new analyses of 29 clinical studies of Zelnorm for treatment of a variety of gastrointestinal tract conditions. These 29 studies included 11,614 patients treated with Zelnorm and 7,031 treated with a sugar pill. The average age of patients in these studies was 43 years and most patients (88%) were women.
The number of patients who suffered a heart attack, stroke or severe heart chest pain that can turn into a heart attack was small. However, patients treated with Zelnorm had a higher chance of having any of these serious and life-threatening side effects than did those who were treated with a sugar pill. Thirteen patients treated with Zelnorm (0.1%) had serious and life-threatening cardiovascular side effects; among these, four patients had a heart attack (one died), six had a type of severe heart chest pain which can quickly turn into a heart attack, and three had a stroke. Among the patients taking the sugar pill, only one (or 0.01%) had symptoms suggesting the beginning of a stroke that went away without complication.
Zelnorm - Getting Legal Help
While all medications have certain anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to make its products as reasonably safe as possible, and to inform the medical community and the public of known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held legally responsible if patients are injured as the result of inadequate warnings or the unreasonably dangerous nature of the drug, under a legal theory called "product liability."
If you or a loved one have experienced any dangerous symptoms or unusual medical conditions while using Zelnorm, you should first contact your doctor or other healthcare professional. You may also wish to meet with an experienced attorney to discuss your options and to protect your right to a legal remedy for any injuries caused by Zelnorm use.