New Drugs Better for Postoperative Nausea

Study found 95 percent of those taking them did not experience vomiting 24 hours later

MONDAY, Oct. 24, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A new class of drugs called NK-1 receptor antagonists is more effective at reducing postoperative vomiting than the most commonly used drug ondansetron, says a study led by Duke University Medical Center researchers.

The Phase III study of 805 patients at 30 medical centers found that 95 percent of those taking the NK-1 receptor antagonists before surgery did not experience vomiting 24 hours after surgery, compared to 74 percent of patients who took ondansetron. The results were similar 48 hours after surgery -- 93 percent vs. 67 percent.

"This new drug offers significant advantages in reducing the incidence of vomiting in patients after surgery. This is the first time that an anti-sickness drug provides a sustained protection against postoperative vomiting in more than 90 percent of patients," Dr. Tong Joo Gan, the Duke anesthesiologist who led the trial, said in a prepared statement.

The study was funded by Merck Research Laboratories, which developed the NK-1 receptor. The findings were to be presented Monday at the American Society of Anesthesiologists' annual meeting, in Atlanta.

Gan said this is an important advance because, currently, one in three patients suffers nausea and vomiting after surgery.

He said vomiting is an issue that "most physicians do not take seriously enough -- they see it as a short-term nuisance that will soon pass. However, studies have shown that nausea and vomiting after surgery is the major factor influencing whether or not patients are satisfied with their surgery. When I talk to patients before their surgeries, most are more afraid of the vomiting afterwards than they are of the pain."

More information

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers questions to ask your doctor before surgery.

SOURCE: Duke University Medical Center, news release, Oct. 24, 2005
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