In a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that the drug relieved some symptoms of IBS and improved the well-being of people with IBS.
"This study points out the benefits of this drug as a potential new and improved treatment for IBS, a disease that is very difficult for physicians to manage," said George Arnold, M.D., F.A.C.P., clinical professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and principal investigator in the study.
IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects 14-24 percent of women and 5-19 percent of men in western populations and is characterized by abdominal pain, altered bowel habits and abdominal bloating. It generally has been treated with high-fiber diet, drugs or both.
The study found that the percentage of participants experiencing an improvement in overall well-being was significantly greater (63.3 percent) in the paroxetine group than the placebo group (26.3 percent). The percentage of participants experiencing an improvement in bowel movements was significantly greater in the paroxetine recipients (58.6 percent) than the placebo recipients (32.4 percent). There was a significant improvement in food avoidance and work function for those on paroxetine. There was no significant improvement in abdominal pain or bloating between the paroxetine and placebo groups.
"This study showed that in absence of depression, paroxetine helped irritable bowel syndrome," said Dr. Arnold. "This is a medicine that has been in use for some years and is safe with no long term side effects, which is a problem with current medications for IBS."