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Last Updated: Monday, 13 September, 2004, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Incontinence drug launched in UK
Mother and baby - anonymous
Having a baby can trigger stress incontinence
The first drug which can be used to treat stress urinary incontinence has been licensed for use in the UK.

Yentreve (duloxetine), works by strengthening the muscle that controls urine flow from the bladder.

Around four million UK women are thought to be affected by the condition, which can be caused by childbirth, obesity or constipation.

They are currently advised to do pelvic floor exercises to control their condition, or to undergo surgery.

Many women affected by the condition avoid situations where they could be embarrassed, such as not going to places if they do not know where the toilet is.

A quarter of women affected by stress urinary incontinence are under 30.


Yentreve, made by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, is a serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor.

It's a great achievement to have something we can give to these women
Professor Linda Cardozo, King's College Hospital London
It works by increasing the stimulation of the pudendal nerve which strengthens the urethral sphincter at the opening of the bladder, reducing urine leakage.

It has been licensed for women with moderate to severe symptoms, which include accidental leakage during physical exertion, or activities including coughing, sneezing, lifting or exercise.

Trials of the drug showed women taking it saw a 50% reduction in the number of episodes of stress incontinence they experienced. Women taking a dummy pill saw a reduction of a third.

Those taking the drug also reported significant improvements in their quality of life, saying it had reduced the social embarrassment of their condition and meant they no longer had to avoid or limit what they did because of it.

Linda Cardozo, professor of urogynaecology at King's College Hospital London, told BBC News Online the drug would make a difference to women.

"It will improve the quality of their lives."

She added: "This is the first drug specifically for stress incontinence. It's a great achievement to have something we can give to these women."

Professor Cardozo said incontinence was less of a taboo subject than it used to be, but women were still embarrassed to talk about it.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has organised a free public meeting on 20 October to offer advice on treatment.

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