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Emerging therapies for patients with symptoms of opioid-induced bowel dysfunction

Authors Leppert W

Received 3 March 2014

Accepted for publication 7 August 2014

Published 16 April 2015 Volume 2015:9 Pages 2215—2231

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S32684

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Professor Shu-Feng Zhou


Wojciech Leppert

Chair and Department of Palliative Medicine, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznan, Poland

Abstract: Opioid-induced bowel dysfunction (OIBD) comprises gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, including dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, gastric stasis, bloating, abdominal pain, and opioid-induced constipation, which significantly impair patients’ quality of life and may lead to undertreatment of pain. Traditional laxatives are often prescribed for OIBD symptoms, although they display limited efficacy and exert adverse effects. Other strategies include prokinetics and change of opioids or their administration route. However, these approaches do not address underlying causes of OIBD associated with opioid effects on mostly peripheral opioid receptors located in the GI tract. Targeted management of OIBD comprises purely peripherally acting opioid receptor antagonists and a combination of opioid receptor agonist and antagonist. Methylnaltrexone induces laxation in 50%–60% of patients with advanced diseases and OIBD who do not respond to traditional oral laxatives without inducing opioid withdrawal symptoms with similar response (45%–50%) after an oral administration of naloxegol. A combination of prolonged-release oxycodone with prolonged-release naloxone (OXN) in one tablet (a ratio of 2:1) provides analgesia with limited negative effect on the bowel function, as oxycodone displays high oral bioavailability and naloxone demonstrates local antagonist effect on opioid receptors in the GI tract and is totally inactivated in the liver. OXN in daily doses of up to 80 mg/40 mg provides equally effective analgesia with improved bowel function compared to oxycodone administered alone in patients with chronic non-malignant and cancer-related pain. OIBD is a common complication of long-term opioid therapy and may lead to quality of life deterioration and undertreatment of pain. Thus, a complex assessment and management that addresses underlying causes and patomechanisms of OIBD is recommended. Newer strategies comprise methylnaltrexone or OXN administration in the management of OIBD, and OXN may be also considered as a preventive measure of OIBD development in patients who require opioid administration.

Keywords: methylnaltrexone, naloxegol, opioid-induced constipation, oxycodone/naloxone, quality of life, opioid-induced bowel dysfunction

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