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Oral methylnaltrexone does not negatively impact analgesia in patients with opioid-induced constipation and chronic noncancer pain

Authors Webster LR, Israel RJ

Received 21 December 2017

Accepted for publication 14 June 2018

Published 13 August 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 1503—1510


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Erica Wegrzyn

Lynn R Webster,1 Robert J Israel2

1PRA Health Sciences, Salt Lake City, UT, USA; 2Clinical and Medical Affairs, Salix Pharmaceuticals, Bridgewater, NJ, USA

Purpose: An oral formulation of methylnaltrexone has been developed for treating opioid-induced constipation (OIC). This manuscript examines the impact of oral methylnaltrexone, a peripherally acting µ-opioid receptor antagonist, on opioid analgesia.
Methods: This Phase III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, evaluated changes in pain intensity scores (0= no pain to 10= worst possible pain) and opioid use in adults with chronic noncancer pain. Patients taking ≥50 mg/day oral morphine equivalent dose (MED) for ≥14 days before screening with less than three rescue-free bowel movements/week received oral methylnaltrexone 150 mg/day (n=201), 300 mg/day (n=201), 450 mg/day (n=200), or placebo (n=201) once daily for 4 weeks followed by 8 weeks of oral methylnaltrexone as needed.
Results: The primary condition requiring opioid use was back pain (68.2% of 803 patients). Baseline pain intensity scores were similar among treatment groups (mean range, 6.2–6.4) and remained stable throughout the 4-week double-blind (mean range, 6.1–6.5) and 8-week as needed (mean range, 6.3–6.5) periods. Baseline mean MED was comparable between oral methylnaltrexone 150 mg (200.0 mg/day), methylnaltrexone 450 mg (218.0 mg/day), and placebo (209.7 mg/day), but was slightly higher in the oral methylnaltrexone 300-mg group (252.6 mg/day). Nonsignificant, minimal changes in mean MED were observed after 4 weeks of treatment (214.5–235.6 mg/day) and at the end of the as needed phase (202.3–234.9 mg/day). The percentage of patients who initiated new opioid medications during the 4-week, once-daily dosing period was generally similar among the oral methylnaltrexone 150-mg, 300-mg, and 450-mg groups (44.8%, 43.3%, and 35.0%, respectively), the oral methylnaltrexone combined group (41.0%), and the placebo group (39.8%). The most common newly initiated opioid medications during this once-daily period were oxycodone (oral methylnaltrexone groups combined, 14.6%; placebo, 12.4%) and morphine (oral methylnaltrexone combined, 10.1%; placebo, 7.0%).
Conclusion: Oral methylnaltrexone does not elicit opioid withdrawal or interfere with opioid analgesia.

Keywords: methylnaltrexone, constipation, opioid analgesics, chronic pain, opiate dependence, opioid-related disorders

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