Prucalopride (Resolor; Movetis) "significantly and consistently" improves bowel function in patients with severe and chronic constipation, Belgian researchers report in the medical journal Gut.

"The present study, which enrolled a group of patients with chronic constipation who did not have a satisfactory response to laxatives, demonstrates an excellent efficacy and safety profile" of prucalopride, lead investigator Dr. Jan Tack told Reuters Health.

Tack of University Hospital, Leuven, and colleagues studied patients who were randomly assigned to daily treatment with prucalopride 2 milligrams (mg) or 4 mg, or to placebo.

In the 713 patients evaluated, 19.5 percent of those who received 2 mg of the agent and 23.6 percent of those who received the 4-mg dose had three or more spontaneous complete bowel movements per week. These proportions were significantly greater than the 9.6 percent seen in the placebo group.

Both doses were well tolerated and most side effects were mild or moderate and transient. The most common adverse effects were headache and diarrhea.

"The drug," Tack concluded, "has the potential to alleviate a major unmet need in clinical practice, both at the level of specialists and at the level of primary care physicians."