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New Pill Cleanses Bowel Before Colonoscopy

For people who can't tolerate liquid preparations

WEDNESDAY, March 22, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- OsmoPrep tablets (sodium phosphate monobasic monohydrate and sodium phosphate dibasic anhydrous) have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to cleanse the bowel before a colonoscopy, a test to detect colon cancer.

The tablet's maker, Salix Pharmaceuticals, said OsmoPrep had been approved for people 18 and older as an alternative to high-volume liquids taken before the procedure.

In a statement, the company cited a Mayo Clinic study's conclusion that unwillingness to take a bowel preparation was "the single largest barrier to colorectal cancer screening." Still, more than 10 million uses of bowel cleansing agents were prescribed during 2005, Salix said.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 30,000 lives could be saved each year by widespread colon cancer screening, the company said.

More information

To learn more about colonoscopy, visit the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

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