The Evolving Role of Long-Term Pharmacotherapy for Opioid-Induced Constipation in Patients Being Treated for Noncancer Pain

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Journal of Pharmacy Practice


Nationally, the prescription of opioids for acute and chronic pain is increasing. As opioid use continues to expand and become of increased concern for health-care practitioners, so do the adverse effects and long-term management of those effects. Opioid-induced constipation (OIC) presents a unique challenge because tolerance does not develop to this particular adverse effect, making chronic pain management a delicate balance between relieving pain and preventing long-term adverse effects such as constipation and dependence. Several agents have been developed for the treatment of OIC in patients with chronic noncancer pain on the basis of short-term studies of 12 weeks or less. However, chronic pain management often extends beyond this 12-week boundary, resulting in health-care professionals questioning the safety and efficacy of continued treatment with OIC agents. This review evaluates available literature on long-term treatment of OIC in patients with chronic noncancer pain with lubiprostone, naloxegol, and methylnaltrexone as well as preliminary results of the recently completed naldemedine long-term trial, COMPOSE-3.

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