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Ahead of the Bell: Synergy Pharma shares rise

The Associated Press

Shares of Synergy Pharmaceuticals started the new year with a 16 percent climb after the drug developer said its treatment for chronic constipation outperformed a placebo in a late-stage study.

The New York company said patients taking a 3-milligram dose of the oral drug plecanatide saw a statistically significant increase in "complete spontaneous bowel movements" over the study's 12-week period. That involves complete bowel movements without the use of laxatives beforehand.

The drug's main side effect was diarrhea, but a company spokeswoman said the percentage of patients affected by it was lower than the percentage seen with established treatments.

Synergy has no other drugs on the market, and plecanatide is its most advanced treatment. It plans to present full study results later this year.

"Based on the results of this trial, we are convinced that plecanatide has the potential to be a safe, effective and much-needed new treatment for millions of patients who are living with chronic constipation," Synergy CEO Gary S. Jacob said in a statement.

The company said about 45 million people have chronic constipation in the United States. Synergy also is studying plecanatide in a mid-stage clinical study as a possible treatment for irritable bowel syndrome with constipation.

Shares of Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. climbed 84 cents to $6.10 Wednesday in premarket trading.