Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Experimental Drug May Treat Chronic Constipation

Researchers Find That the New Drug May Also Lower LDL ‘Bad’ Cholesterol
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 10, 2011 -- An experimental pill that blocks the absorption of bile acids by the small intestine may help to relieve chronic constipation, early research shows.

The drug, called A3309, works by inhibiting a molecule that removes digestive juices called bile acids from the lower part of the small intestine so they can be recycled by the body.

“We think bile acids are natural laxatives,” says study researcher Banny Wong, MD, instructor of medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. “If you have too much leaking into the colon, then you get diarrhea. If you have too little, then you get constipation.”

In his study, A3309 seemed to allow more bile acids to pass into the colon, which helped soften stool and speed its trip through the gut, Wong tells WebMD.

A separate study also found that A3309 may also help to lower LDL “bad” cholesterol. That makes sense, Wong says, because the liver uses cholesterol to make bile acids.

“The good thing about this medication is that it really changes and shifts the balance of a normal physiological process,” Wong says. He adds that the drug doesn’t appear to be absorbed into the bloodstream, which may mean that it has fewer systemic side effects.

Treating Chronic Constipation

For his study, Wong and colleagues recruited 36 women who had been diagnosed with chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) or constipation that doesn’t have a recognized cause.

From a doctor’s perspective, constipation is having fewer than three bowel movements in a week.

The women were randomly split into three groups that took a placebo pill or 15 or 20 milligrams of A3309 once daily for two weeks.

Researchers tracked the movement of their stool by having them swallow a radioactive tracer and followed its movement through the intestines with gamma cameras.

Women taking A3309 had significantly faster stool passage than those taking the placebo pill. They also reported easier bowel movements with less straining.

The main side effect experienced in the treatment group was abdominal discomfort and pain.

Two women in the treatment group, and one in the placebo group, dropped out of the study because of diarrhea.

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
top foods for probiotics
couple eating at cafe
sick child
Woman blowing bubble gum

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Woman with stomach pain
diet for diverticulitis
what causes diarrhea