Di Palma led the research team that, among other things, tested the safety of the colonoscopy prep.
By Casandra Andrews
USA Health gastroenterologist Jack Di Palma, M.D., has spent much of his career helping to develop innovative ways for patients to better tolerate preparation for a colonoscopy, the preferred screening for colon cancer.
His latest effort, SUTAB, a sodium sulfate, magnesium sulfate and potassium chloride tablet, received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month and should be available to patients in January 2021, according to Sebela Pharmaceuticals, the company that brought the colon prep to market. Di Palma led the research team that, among other things, tested the safety of the colonoscopy prep.
SUTAB is a sulfate-based tablet that offers patients and physicians an alternative to liquid-based colonoscopy preparations, said Di Palma, who also serves as a professor at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.
“Because SUTAB contains the active sulfate ingredients similar to SuPREP,” Di Palma said, gastroenterologists will already be familiar with its effects.”
Colonoscopy is the most common detection method for colorectal cancer, a leading cause of cancer-related deaths that can be managed more effectively through routine screening, he said. It’s considered the gold standard of colorectal cancer screening methods because it allows a physician to view the entire colon to detect and remove polyps during the procedure. Cleaning the colon helps a healthcare provider see the inside of a colon more clearly during a colonoscopy.
On average, 19 million colonoscopies are performed in the United States each year. For patients who have had difficulty completing colonoscopy preparation in the past, SUTAB presents a welcome alternative to liquid bowel prep, Di Palma said.
Beginning in 2017, Di Palma led a multi-center, randomized, single-blind study at 23 U.S. sites that included 540 adult colonoscopies using SUTAB. He also assisted with the design, preparation of the protocol, collection and analysis of data for the study and authored a research paper comparing the efficacy and safety of the tablet to another bowel-prep solution published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.
During the study, 92 percent of patients achieved successful bowel cleaning with SUTAB in two trials while 91 percent of patients said SUTAB was very tolerable to consume in one trial; some 78 percent of patients said they would request it again for future colonoscopies.
Di Palma became involved with Braintree Laboratories, he said, while working at USA Health and researching a new product the lab was developing. The product became GoLYTLEY, which is used for colon cleansing for diagnostic and surgical procedures. Since then, Di Palma and USA Health have collaborated on several clinical studies leading to the development of products such as NuLYTELY, HalfLYTLEY, MiraLax and the SuPREP bowel prep kit. Di Palma is now a consultant and medical director for Braintree Laboratories.