Viberzi Could Be Deadly for Those Without Gallbladders
By Sean Lally, Staff Writer
In March of 2017, the FDA released a notice, warning the public about some grave risks associated with the IBS drug, known as Viberzi. According to the federal agency, anyone lacking a gallbladder should steer clear of the drug, as it has been linked to increased chances of hospitalization and (in some cases) death. The FDA received 120 reports that patients without gallbladders have been suffering from pancreatitis, a condition caused by a muscular spasm in the intestine. Of the 120 reports, 76 required hospitalization and two died. Sixty-eight of the reports indicated gallbladder status. Fifty-six of those didn’t have a gallbladder while taking Viberzi.
Thus, the safety announcement unambiguously declared that patients without a gallbladder should “[s]top taking Viberzi right away and get emergency medical care if [they] develop new or worsening stomach-area or abdomen pain, or pain in the upper right side of [the] stomach-area or abdomen that may move to [the] back or shoulder.” In addition, the FDA stated that it would be working with the drug’s manufacturer, Allergan, in order to address these risks.
So what can a person suffering from IBS do, if they can’t take Viberzi. The FDA made a few suggestions. They encouraged patients without gallbladders to consider other drugs, like Imodium, Lomotil, Xifaxan, Lotronex, Pepto-Bismol and Gas-X.
It’s somewhat surprising that, according to a recent Morning Star report, Allergan may see its profits increase in the near future. The report acknowledges the potential impact of the VIberzi situation, but it projects that a “re-education and awareness campaign” could “rekindle growth.” It goes on to say that, since the drug “still seems well tolerated in patients with a gallbladder,” the sales will likely improve. Moreover, Viberzi doesn’t have much competition holding it back.
The Nitty Gritty
What exactly is the problem with Viberzi? Well, to begin with, Viberzi, a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, slows down muscle contractions in the intestine by activating opioid receptors. It does this in order to mitigate the occurrence of diarreah. However, in the process, Viberzi also stops the flow of juices into the intestine. It does this by closing the aperture of the so-called sphincter of Oddi. Luckily, most digestive systems have a back-up plan: juice that doesn’t make its way into the intestine gets stored in the gallbladder and pancreas. But without a gallbladder, all the surplus juice gets stowed in the pancreas, leading to immense digestive issues, such as pancreatitis.
Potential Viberzi Lawsuits
In light of these malfunctions, many patients may want to seek compensation for their injuries. According to attorneys representing Viberzi victims, pancreatitis may have a significant long term impact on a patient's health. If you have developed this serious complication while taking Viberzi, you may be entitled to compensation. In the unfortunate situation where a patient died from side effects of Viberzi, the patient’s loved ones may be able to pursue a wrongful-death claim.
Some Last Words
Those taking Viberzi (and lacking gallbladders) should cease ingestion of the drug immediately, as the consequences can be severe. According to the FDA’s announcement, “Symptoms of pancreatitis have occurred with just one or two doses of Viberzi at the recommended dosage for patients who do not have a gallbladder (75 mg), and who do not consume alcohol." What’s more, “[T]he patient who experienced pancreatitis died within 3 days of taking the initial Viberzi dose."
Finally, you may experience problems even if you have a gallbladder. For example, if your gallbladder is blocked or if you have a history of pancreatitis, you may still experience an adverse event after taking Viberzi. If you notice any problems, you should seek out an attorney with experience in defective drug cases.