Salix: Half of IBS, chronic constipation patients lately find their condition 'more challenging to manage'

Patients with common but deeply uncomfortable gastrointestinal issues are still struggling to manage their conditions. A Salix-sponsored survey found patients with IBS or chronic constipation saw symptoms worsen—and for some of them, begin—during the pandemic.

A new patient survey from the gastroenterology biopharma dove down into the issues facing people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC).

Salix found almost half (49%) of respondents found their IBS or CIC symptoms “have been more challenging to manage during the last 12 months.”

These latest data are from an “online sample” of U.S. residents and carried out in February 2022 by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s FDU Poll. It was made up of 728 respondents and asked their questions based on responses for 12 months prior, back to Feb. 2021.

The report (PDF) said that overall, 45% of patients began experiencing IBS or CIC symptoms “within the last 24 months,” coinciding with the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

Salix, which is big on marketing and has undertaken these types of polls before, ran a similar survey last year, specific to the effects of the pandemic on IBS patients. There, it found one-third of IBS patients reported worsening physical symptoms with almost half (49%) saying their mental health had suffered.

The report also found that three out of four patients surveyed report that several of their IBS or CIC symptoms included in the survey “have not improved or have worsened” over the last 12 months (between 77% and 81% of respondents).

The specialty pharma, a part of the Bausch Health family, sells Xifaxan, FDA-approved to treat adults with IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D), and Trulance, approved for IBS with constipation (IBS-C) or chronic idiopathic constipation, as well as other GI meds.

Given this, the most important element for Salix was this figure: Nearly one-third (29%) of patients were not offered a prescription medicine to treat symptoms upon diagnosis of their IBS or CIC.

Results also showed that two-thirds (66%) of respondents aren’t currently taking a prescription medication to treat their IBS-D. The company will want to close that gap.

“As many as 3.5 million annual healthcare provider visits for IBS take place in the U.S. each year, and it is our hope that this research will encourage productive dialogue and a collaborative approach to symptom management and guideline-based treatment options during these visits,” said Robert Spurr, president of Salix.

Salix is already pushing the boat out in marketing terms to remove the stigma attached to issues like constipation, recently tapping TikTok for the first time by recruiting five leading healthcare workers who are active on the platform to bring awareness and remove the stigma from these GI issues.