Linzess targets chronic constipation related to long term conditions of undetermined cause such as the Irritable Bowel Syndrome. By definition this requires fewer than 3 bowel movements each week for at least 3 months. Unfortunately this very expensive drug, whose price continues to steadily increase, provides only mild relief. With a cash price in excess of $15 a day, the drug seems as likely to cause harm as benefit.
Approximately 1 in 5 individuals receiving Linzess experience diarrhea which at times may be quite serious. Especially among the more fragile this may lead to dehydration, low blood pressure, dizziness and possibly fainting episodes.
Advertisements aimed at the general public suggest the drug offers major advances in combating constipation. Studies however suggest Linzess reduces both abdominal pain and underlying sluggish bowel habits in only 12% of those given the pill versus 5% in the inactive placebo group.
Considering only abdominal pain, Linzess improved 34% compared to 27% with placebo. An 80% failure rate of Linzess exists with regard to patients able to have a complete spontaneous bowel movement.
Allergan the current name behind the drug was neither involved in the research nor development of Linzess. It simply purchased one of the companies responsible for bringing the drug to market. In December 2013 the discounted monthly price was approximately $233. Currently the same medicine, without any modification in its active form, sells for a discounted $400.
A variety of other methods may combat constipation without the need to resort to expensive therapies of dubious value. Among these options the most frequent include increasing the content of fiber rich foods in the diet. Among these are fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Fiber supplements including psyllium often improve the situation: the same is true for consuming more fluids. Benefits related to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and exercise improve not only the bowels.
Multiple over the counter and prescription products also act to stimulate intestinal motility. Another safe choice includes a laxative known either as Miralax or more properly by its generic name – polyethtlyene glycol. One month of Miralax retails for the price of one day of Linzess.
Some degree of skepticism remains a necessary when considering highly advertised pharmaceuticals. They rarely live up to the hype and almost invariably bend the cost curve in the wrong direction.