Viberzi (eluxadoline) is a medication used to control the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome but has been linked to causing pancreatitis, a potentially fatal condition.
Viberzi decreases bowel contractions to help lessen diarrhea for those that suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS can cause cramping, stomach or abdomen pain, bloating, gas, or diarrhea. The cause of IBS is still unknown, but the intention of Viberzi is to ease the pain associated with IBS.
The medication, manufactured by Allergan, has been linked to serious side effects for those without a gallbladder, which could result in hospitalization or even death.
In March of 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a potential connection between Viberzi and pancreatitis in a drug safety communication warning. The agency had received 120 reports of patients with severe pancreatitis from the time Viberzi was approved in 2015.
Of the reports, 56 patients did not have a gallbladder (out of 68 who reported their gallbladder status), 76 were hospitalized and among them, two died.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, and can be fatal if left untreated. It occurs when digestive enzymes become active and irritate the cells in the organ. Pancreatitis from Viberzi could be caused by a spasm of a digestive system muscle, known as the sphincter of Oddi. It is a muscular valve that resides in the small intestine and controls the flow of digestive enzymes to the gut.
Pancreatitis basically causes a tearing down of the pancreas and can lead to injury of the heart, lungs or kidneys.
Symptoms of Pancreatitis include:
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Fast heart rate
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
The serious side effects could take place as quickly as an hour after the first dose of Viberzi. It is recommended to contact a doctor or seek emergency medical care if any of the above mentioned side effects occur.
In addition, Viberzi is not recommended if the patient has an established history of pancreatic issues, consumes three or more alcoholic beverages a day, chronic constipation, gallbladder obstruction, intestinal obstruction, liver disease, or digestive problems.
There are a handful of stipulations when taking Viberzi. It is not recommended for patients who are taking the following:
- SLCO1B1 inhibitors
- Anti-rejection drugs (as in transplant patients)
- Lotronex (alosetron)
- Bismuth subsalinylate (Pepto-Bismol or similar over-the-counter medications)
- Crestor (rosuvastatin)*
*Crestor increases the risk of rhabdomyolysis, a condition where the muscle tissue breaks down. This could result in the release of proteins in the bloodstream and damage the kidneys.
Many patients have taken Viberzi to help combat the symptoms of IBS, and have unknowingly suffered even more health consequences. The medication can be dangerous to those that are only trying to control their symptoms.