Millions Live with Painful GI Symptoms Impacting Their Lives, but Sufferers Rarely Discuss Symptoms with Doctors Due to Fear and Embarrassment

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Dr. Mehmet Oz, RealAge and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation urge sufferers to talk openly with their doctors, find relief to help improve their RealAge and quality of life.

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While more than 20 million Americans live with the painful and disruptive ABC symptoms – Abdominal pain or discomfort, Bloating and Constipation – many do not discuss all their symptoms with their doctors and even fewer are able to find complete relief, according to results of a new Roper ASW survey released today by RealAge, Inc., a leader in personalized health and wellness information. To help meet this patient need, the GI Relief Center on http://www.RealAge.com was launched today in partnership between RealAge and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

According to the survey, 92 percent of patients experiencing ABC symptoms have tried to treat them, yet only 28 percent report that they are “very satisfied.” Further, 40 percent of patients surveyed experiencing ABC symptoms have not discussed all of their symptoms with their doctor and more than half have not discussed their prior treatments, including over-the-counter fiber and laxatives.

“It is critical for people to be smart patients – that means talking openly with their doctors about all their ABC symptoms and how their symptoms affect their lives, so they can be properly diagnosed and treated,” said Mehmet Oz, M.D., a key RealAge medical advisor. “I understand that abdominal pain, bloating and constipation are not easy to talk about, so we are providing information and tools that will help patients discuss their symptoms in order to find relief and, ultimately, improve their GI health and overall RealAge*.”

The GI Relief Center enables sufferers to learn more about their ABC symptoms and find tools to help them prepare for their next doctor’s visit to determine if they have a real medical condition, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C) or Chronic Constipation. Online, patients can learn more about these conditions and download useful information to foster a productive dialogue with their doctors, bridging the gap that is often the barrier to effective treatment.

“Living with Abdominal pain, Bloating and Constipation was debilitating; it affected every aspect of my life,” said IBS-C sufferer Lea Turano. “I tried laxatives, fiber and other medications, but they did not relieve my symptoms and often made some of them worse. After talking to my doctor about ALL of my symptoms and how they affected my life, I was prescribed a treatment and finally found relief. I encourage anyone suffering with the ABC symptoms to openly talk with their doctor.”

About the ABCs of GI Relief Program

Developed to educate men and women about common GI symptoms, the ABCs of GI Relief program features educational materials on Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation and Chronic Constipation, including a symptom checklist and other fact sheets patients can download to aid them in speaking with their doctors about their symptoms. These free materials are available by visiting the new GI Relief Center on RealAge.com.

  • RealAge refers to the actual or biological age of your body -- which can be older, younger, or the same as what the calendar indicates -- factoring genetics, current health status and behaviors.

About the Survey

The survey was conducted by Roper Public Affairs in April/May, 2006, with results based on telephone interviews of a national sample of 219 American adults who experience GI symptoms of abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating and constipation. The findings are projectable to the population with a margin of sampling error of +/- 7 points. The survey was sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

About RealAge

RealAge (http://www.RealAge.com) provides personalized information and solutions to help people live healthier, longer lives. So far, 15 million people have taken the patented RealAge test, which is widely accepted as the gold standard for measuring individual health status. The RealAge test and more than 40 personalized health assessments are available for free at RealAge.com. RealAge refers to the actual or biological age of your body -- which can be older, younger, or the same as what the calendar indicates -- factoring genetics, current health status and behaviors.

Every health center at RealAge.com delivers unbiased facts, based on the latest research. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, manufacturer of Zelnorm® (tegaserod maleate), is the exclusive sponsor of the ABCs of GI Relief Health Center at RealAge.com. Consumer Reports awarded RealAge.com its highest score of excellent in “advertising and sponsorships” for identification of paid information.

About Novartis

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation researches, develops, manufactures and markets leading innovative prescription drugs used to treat a number of diseases and conditions, including those in the cardiovascular, metabolic, cancer, organ transplantation, central nervous system, dermatological, gastrointestinal and respiratory areas. The company's mission is to improve people's lives by pioneering novel healthcare solutions.

Located in East Hanover, New Jersey, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation is an affiliate of Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) - a world leader in offering medicines to protect health, treat disease and improve well-being. Our goal is to discover, develop and successfully market innovative products to treat patients, ease suffering and enhance the quality of life. Novartis is the only company with leadership positions in both patented and generic pharmaceuticals. We are strengthening our medicine-based portfolio, which is focused on strategic growth platforms in innovation-driven pharmaceuticals, high-quality and low-cost generics and leading self-medication OTC brands. In 2005, the Group's businesses achieved net sales of USD 32.2 billion and net income of USD 6.1 billion. Approximately USD 4.8 billion was invested in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 91,000 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

About Zelnorm

Zelnorm is indicated for the treatment of men and women less than 65 years of age with Chronic Idiopathic Constipation. The effectiveness of Zelnorm in patients 65 years or older with Chronic Idiopathic Constipation has not been established. Zelnorm is also indicated for the short-term treatment of women with IBS whose primary symptom is Constipation. The safety and effectiveness of Zelnorm in men with IBS with Constipation have not been established. Efficacy beyond 12 weeks has not been studied. Zelnorm is the first in a novel class of drugs that act as an agonist at 5HT4 (serotonin type 4) receptors. Zelnorm mimics the natural effects of serotonin by activating 5HT4 receptors, which normalizes impaired motility in the GI tract, inhibits visceral sensitivity and stimulates intestinal secretion. Overall, safety data is now available in more than 14,000 patients who have enrolled in clinical trials assessing Zelnorm’s safety and efficacy in various GI conditions.

Serious consequences of diarrhea, including hypovolemia, hypotension, and syncope, have been reported with Zelnorm. Zelnorm should be discontinued immediately in patients who develop severe diarrhea, hypotension, or syncope. Zelnorm should not be initiated in patients who are currently experiencing or frequently experience diarrhea.

Zelnorm should be discontinued immediately in patients with new or sudden worsening of abdominal pain. Ischemic colitis and other forms of intestinal ischemia have been reported in patients receiving Zelnorm during marketed use of the drug. In some cases, hospitalization was required. Patients who develop symptoms of ischemic colitis such as rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, or new or worsening abdominal pain should discontinue therapy immediately and be evaluated. Zelnorm should not be resumed if ischemic colitis or other forms of intestinal ischemia are diagnosed. A causal relationship between Zelnorm and these events has not been established. They only adverse events reported significantly more often with Zelnorm than with placebo were diarrhea (7% vs. 3%) in Chronic Constipation studies, and headache (15% vs. 12%) and diarrhea (9% vs. 4%) in IBS with Constipation studies.

Zelnorm was developed by Novartis and is also known in some countries as Zelmac. Approximately 3 million patients worldwide have been treated with Zelnorm to date. It is approved in more than 56 countries for IBS with Constipation. Zelnorm also is approved for use in Chronic Constipation in more than 20 countries, including Mexico and many of the Latin American countries.

About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a dysmotility disorder characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating and altered bowel function. IBS is one of the most common GI disorders affecting up to one in five adult Americans. IBS accounts for approximately 12% of all visits to primary care doctors and 28% of visits to gastroenterologists and is a leading cause of workplace absenteeism (second only to the common cold).

About Chronic Constipation

Constipation is a common disorder affecting nearly 18 percent of Americans or 37 million people. More than 4.5 million Americans report they are constipated most of the time. Chronic Constipation, as a whole, accounts for more than 5.7 million constipation-related outpatient visits each year, with 990,994 to emergency rooms.    

Contact:

Jennifer Perciballi

212.377.2088

Meghan Flanagan

212.715.1637

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