Viberzi is the first drug of its kind – it targets the opioid receptors in the intestinal track. These receptors are believed to play a role in the motility of the intestines and in the hypersensitivity to pain. Although the exact action of Viberzi is unknown, it is believed to help the two symptoms of IBS-D by slowing the intestinal motility, or rate of movement, and decreasing the sensitivity to pain, which is experienced as abdominal pain.1
Before taking Viberzi, patients should talk to their doctor about all medical conditions and all medications they currently take, as some conditions may put the patient at greater risk of side effects from Viberzi.1
Who shouldn’t take Viberzi
The following patients should not take Viberzi:
- Those who have had a blockage in the gallbladder or a sphincter of Oddi problem (problems related to the muscle passageway located on the pancreatic duct)
- Patients who have or have had problems with alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction or who drink more than three alcoholic drinks a day
- Those who have had inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) or other pancreas problems, including blockages
- Patients who have severe liver problems
- Patients who have had long-lasting or severe constipation, or problems caused by constipation
- Anyone who has or may have had a bowel blockage
Patients who are pregnant, who plan to become pregnant, or who are breastfeeding should talk to their doctor before taking Viberzi as it is not known if the medication may harm the baby.1,2
Possible side effects when taking Viberzi
The most common side effects patients experience when taking Viberzi include constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain. Patients are advised to stop taking Viberzi if they experience constipation.
Rarely, patients taking Viberzi have experienced muscle spasms in the sphincter of Oddi (in the pancreas) or pancreatitis, causing abdominal pain and elevated liver enzymes. In clinical trials, patients who experienced these side effects experienced relief upon discontinuation of Viberzi, with symptoms typically improving the following day or within a week.1
These are not all the possible side effects of Viberzi. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you during treatment with Viberzi.
Additional treatment options for IBS
IBS is a condition that presents differently in each person, and treatment must be tailored to the individual patient. Many patients find that they need a combination of approaches to manage their IBS symptoms. In addition to medication, IBS treatment options include dietary changes, exercise, fiber, probiotics, stress management, counseling, and alternative and complementary treatments.