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AGA and AbbVie Survey Patients and Physicians to Uncover Barriers in Addressing Gastrointestinal Issues

Survey to identify gaps that may impact proper diagnosis of the often overlooked exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

Contact: Aimee Frank
[email protected]

Bethesda, MD (April 12, 2016) — AGA will look to uncover barriers to diagnosis of a frequently overlooked and under-recognized condition called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) and explore the understanding of the role of the pancreas in digestive health in a survey sponsored by AbbVie. EPI can be difficult to diagnose, because many of the symptoms — such as diarrhea, unexplained weight-loss, gas and stomach pain — mimic those of other gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. 

Approximately 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive conditions in the U.S., many of which are chronic in nature.1 These conditions, which include EPI, can be difficult to diagnose because patients are often hesitant to discuss their symptoms with a physician. Low awareness and a current lack of recognition of EPI among patients and physicians is also believed to be problematic in its diagnosis.

“The inability for individuals to identify what’s causing chronic GI symptoms can prevent timely treatment and impact their everyday lives,” said Christopher E. Forsmark, MD, AGAF, professor of medicine and chief, division of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at the University of Florida, Gainesville. “We hope that this survey will better help us understand and minimize barriers in physician and patient communications and develop educational programs to ensure patients with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency are receiving an accurate and timely diagnosis, which will lead to appropriate therapy.”

The survey will be fielded by Nielsen Holdings, an international market research firm. Participants include 1,000 patients who have recently experienced pre-specified GI symptoms, as well as 500 primary care physicians and gastroenterologists. Both groups will complete complementary surveys online that will help provide a more complete picture of the barriers preventing timely diagnoses and treatment of GI issues. This is part of an ongoing series of surveys that the AGA is conducting to gain understanding of how common GI health conditions impact individuals in the U.S.

“We’re proud to partner with the AGA to uncover new information that will help improve diagnoses for people who exhibit gastrointestinal issues,” said Michael Robinson M.D., vice president and head of AbbVie U.S. and Puerto Rico Medical Affairs. “Ultimately, we hope these findings will empower patients to proactively speak with a medical professional about their symptoms and take control of conditions such as EPI that can disrupt their daily lives.”

About EPI
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or EPI, is a medical condition that occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough digestive enzymes to break down the carbohydrates, proteins and fats in foods and convert them into nutrients.1 Symptoms may include frequent diarrhea, unexplained weight-loss, gas, bloating, frequent bowel movements and stomach pain.2 This condition can be difficult to diagnose, because many of the symptoms mimic those of other GI disorders.2 EPI is commonly associated with certain diseases and conditions that affect the pancreas, such as chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), cystic fibrosis (a disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems), pancreatectomy (surgical removal of all or part of the pancreas), gastrointestinal surgery, pancreatic cancer and diabetes.2,3 Visit to learn more. 

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About the Survey
The survey will be commissioned by the American Gastroenterological Association and conducted with the financial support of AbbVie. Online surveys will be conducted by Nielsen Holdings and will include patients suffering with chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as primary care physicians and gastroenterologists who treat these conditions.

About the AGA Institute 
The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization.

About AbbVie
AbbVie is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 following separation from Abbott Laboratories. The company’s mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to develop and market advanced therapies that address some of the world’s most complex and serious diseases. Together with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pharmacyclics, AbbVie employs more than 28,000 people worldwide and markets medicines in more than 170 countries. For further information on the company and its people, portfolio and commitments, please visit

1 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States. Available at: Last accessed: March 2016.
2 Fieker A, Philpott J, Armand M. Enzyme replacement therapy for pancreatic insufficiency: present and future. Clin Exp Gastroenterol. 2011;4:55-73.
3 Keller J and P Layer. Human Pancreatic Exocrine Response to Nutrients in Health and Disease. Gut. 2005;54:1-28.

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