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      Safety of oral methylnaltrexone for opioid-induced constipation in patients with chronic noncancer pain

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          Oral methylnaltrexone was shown to be effective in treating opioid-induced constipation (OIC) in patients with chronic noncancer pain in a Phase III randomized controlled trial. This report provides a detailed safety analysis from that study.


          Adults (n=803) with chronic noncancer pain for ≥2 months and confirmed OIC while receiving opioid doses ≥50 mg morphine equivalent per day for ≥14 days were randomized 1:1:1:1 to oral methylnaltrexone (150, 300, or 450 mg) or placebo once daily for 4 weeks, followed by as-needed use for 8 weeks. Safety was evaluated by examining treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs), clinical laboratory parameters, vital signs, electrocardiography, rescue-laxative and opioid use, Objective Opioid Withdrawal Scale (OOWS) and Subjective Opioid Withdrawal Scale (SOWS), and pain-intensity scores.


          TEAEs occurred at a similar incidence in the methylnaltrexone groups (59.0%) and placebo group (63.0%). The most common TEAEs with methylnaltrexone were abdominal pain (8.0% vs 8.5% with placebo), nausea (6.8% vs 9.0%), and diarrhea (6.0% vs 3.5%). Cardiac-related TEAEs occurred in 1.8% and 1.0% of patients, respectively, and no major adverse cardiovascular events were reported. No patient had a cluster of TEAEs associated with opioid withdrawal after excluding gastrointestinal TEAEs. Changes in laboratory parameters, vital signs, and electrocardiography were generally small and similar across treatment groups. Rescue-laxative use was more common with placebo than methylnaltrexone 450 mg (6.20% vs 4.27% of study days, P=0.024). Changes in opioid dose, OOWS and SOWS scores, and pain-intensity scores during treatment were minimal.


          Oral methylnaltrexone had a safety profile comparable with placebo in the treatment of OIC in patients with chronic noncancer pain, with no evidence of cardiac toxicity or opioid withdrawal.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Clinical guidelines for the use of chronic opioid therapy in chronic noncancer pain.

          Use of chronic opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain has increased substantially. The American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine commissioned a systematic review of the evidence on chronic opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain and convened a multidisciplinary expert panel to review the evidence and formulate recommendations. Although evidence is limited, the expert panel concluded that chronic opioid therapy can be an effective therapy for carefully selected and monitored patients with chronic noncancer pain. However, opioids are also associated with potentially serious harms, including opioid-related adverse effects and outcomes related to the abuse potential of opioids. The recommendations presented in this document provide guidance on patient selection and risk stratification; informed consent and opioid management plans; initiation and titration of chronic opioid therapy; use of methadone; monitoring of patients on chronic opioid therapy; dose escalations, high-dose opioid therapy, opioid rotation, and indications for discontinuation of therapy; prevention and management of opioid-related adverse effects; driving and work safety; identifying a medical home and when to obtain consultation; management of breakthrough pain; chronic opioid therapy in pregnancy; and opioid-related policies. Safe and effective chronic opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain requires clinical skills and knowledge in both the principles of opioid prescribing and on the assessment and management of risks associated with opioid abuse, addiction, and diversion. Although evidence is limited in many areas related to use of opioids for chronic noncancer pain, this guideline provides recommendations developed by a multidisciplinary expert panel after a systematic review of the evidence.
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            Opioids in chronic non-cancer pain: systematic review of efficacy and safety.

            Opioids are used increasingly for chronic non-cancer pain. Controversy exists about their effectiveness and safety with long-term use. We analysed available randomised, placebo-controlled trials of WHO step 3 opioids for efficacy and safety in chronic non-cancer pain. The Oxford Pain Relief Database (1950-1994) and Medline, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library were searched until September 2003. Inclusion criteria were randomised comparisons of WHO step 3 opioids with placebo in chronic non-cancer pain. Double-blind studies reporting on pain intensity outcomes using validated pain scales were included. Fifteen randomised placebo-controlled trials were included. Four investigations with 120 patients studied intravenous opioid testing. Eleven studies (1025 patients) compared oral opioids with placebo for four days to eight weeks. Six of the 15 included trials had an open label follow-up of 6-24 months. The mean decrease in pain intensity in most studies was at least 30% with opioids and was comparable in neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain. About 80% of patients experienced at least one adverse event, with constipation (41%), nausea (32%) and somnolence (29%) being most common. Only 44% of 388 patients on open label treatments were still on opioids after therapy for between 7 and 24 months. The short-term efficacy of opioids was good in both neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain conditions. However, only a minority of patients in these studies went on to long-term management with opioids. The small number of selected patients and the short follow-ups do not allow conclusions concerning problems such as tolerance and addiction.
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              Guideline for opioid therapy and chronic noncancer pain.


                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                24 December 2018
                : 12
                : 139-150
                [1 ]Carolinas Pain Institute, Winston-Salem, NC, USA, RRauck@ 123456ccrpain.com
                [2 ]School of Medicine, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA, USA
                [3 ]Medical Affairs, Salix Pharmaceuticals, Bridgewater, NJ, USA
                [4 ]Clinical Research, Progenics Pharmaceuticals, New York, NY, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Richard L Rauck, Carolinas Pain Institute, 145 Kimel Park Drive – suite 330, Winston-Salem, NC 27103, USA, Tel +1 336 714 8381, Fax +1 336 765 8492, Email RRauck@ 123456ccrpain.com
                © 2019 Rauck et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                safety, nonmalignant, µ-opioid-receptor antagonist, analgesia


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