Posts Tagged ‘the politics of motility research’

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The etymology of an orphan

February 26, 2010

Xifaxan and its manufacturer, Salix, has been making news all week. An FDA advisory panel recently recommended the approval of Xifaxan in 550 mg tablets, as an Orphan Drug  for the maintenance of remission of hepatic encephalopathy (HE,) a dangerous result of liver failure.

Xifaxan or Rifaximin, is almost always the front line antibiotic used to eradicate SIBO. According to the literature, it has many advantages over other antibiotics. As a broad-spectrum, non-absorbable antibiotic, it is not absorbed into the bloodstream and it acts against both gram-positive and gram-negative pathogens. In many trials, the administration of Rifaxamin has produced a very low occurrence of side effects and additionally the risk of antibiotic resistance is lower with Rifaxamin than with many other antibiotics. Probably the most unique property of Rifaxamin, and also what makes it most useful to people with SIBO, is its demonstrated efficacy against bloating!  It has also been used to reduce or eliminate cutaneous lesions in Rosacea patients with SIBO.

To be honest I am unclear of the FDA’s recommendation for people with SIBO. If there is an impact, what does the drug’s status as an orphan drug mean for SIBO?

According to Wikipedia, the Orphan Drug Act is “meant to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs for diseases that have a small market.” That is certainly SIBO!  However, orphan drugs have to treat orphan diseases; conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. I have no idea how many people in the United States suffer from SIBO. During holidays and office birthday parties when I watch everyone eat candy I feel like I may be the only SIBO patient in the nation.

It may not matter whether or not SIBO is an orphan disease. Just a day before the news broke of the FDA recommendation, an article discussing the deliberation noted that Salix is planning to submit a new drug application for Xifaxan this year, specifically for the irritable bowel syndrome indication in the first half of 2010.

 Currently, Xifaxan is prescribed to people with SIBO off-label. The developments of Salix’s new application for Xifaxan for IBS will be of some interest to the SIBO community because if it is approved then Xifaxan could be prescribed specifically for SIBO. Xifaxan has not worked for all of us; I have taken several courses and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. However, the largest issue with Xifaxan for SIBO is the prohibitively high cost. Most insurance companies just don’t cover drugs when they are used off-label. If Salix’s application is approved, more people with SIBO will at least be able to try Xifaxan. Which, I believe is a good thing. It is interesting to note that there were questions of both efficacy and safety during the HE study, and the SIBO community should be on the lookout to see if these same issues arise during the IBS studies.

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A very personal request

February 11, 2010

I sent this email out to my dear friends and I’m sharing it here too as most “Year Without Cake” readers are peronally affected by this issue just as much as I am!

Dear friends,
 
I don’t often pass around requests for petition signatures. Sometimes, when a matter is extremely important to me I do. I’m asking now for a cause that may look, on the surface, to be somewhat unimportant, given the tragedy that we’ve seen thus far in 2010, not the least of which has been the earthquake in Haiti, which has devestated countless lives.
 
However, I’m asking you to give this issue a 2nd look, because it affects so many people, including myself! As some of you know, I have a gastric motility disorder known as SIBO. Having this condition has completely changed my life in many ways, not for the better. Currently there are two bills up for consideration, Senate Bill 981 and House Resolution 2275, to support research and public awareness activities (including professional development for healthcare professionals) for inflammatory bowel diseases. Additionally, there was recently a request for $665,000 in earmark funding issued to the Motility center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to assist the innovative GI Motility research being led by Dr. Mark Pimentel who is studying the use of antibiotics to prevent severe bacterial overgrowth in various GI motility diseases. Dr. Pimentel wrote the book (literally) on SIBO and to this day my doctor and I follow his recommendations to treat my condition. However, Dr. Pimentel hasn’t yet found a cure, nor are there cures for even more serious motility conditions such as gastroparesis or pseudointestinal obstruction.
 
On December 12 (my birthday!) and December 13th Senator John McCain made a series of comments during open debate on the floor of the United States Senate and on a Fox News broadcast protesting against this earmark. His comments trivialized motility disorders and the important research that is needed to help people affected by them. I echo the belief of my friend Michael Smith of G-PACT when I say that these types of comments only serve to foster an unnecessary ignorance of the severity of GI motility disease. Given what I and my family have been through during the last four years, I can promise you that SIBO and other motility disorders are neither funny nor trivial. Speculative reserach has linked SIBO to many other non-gastrointestinal conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Fatigue, and Interstitial Cystitis. Sadly, I have recently been diagnosed with some of these other conditions.
 
So that is why I’m sending you this email and asking you to sign this petition: “Senator McCain: Support Research Funding for Gastric Motility Disorders ”
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/gastricmotilityresearch/
 
It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation or partisanship is. You can support John McCain but he needs to know that you don’t think his comments were appropriate or funny. Many people of both political parties suffer from motility disorders. All politicians need to know how important it is that we fund research and find a cure for these conditions. Please sign this petition and please pass my request along to your friends as you see fit.
 
Many, many thanks to all of you, my friends