J Emerg Med. 2021 Dec 7:S0736-4679(21)00755-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2021.10.012. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Opioid-induced constipation (OIC) is a frequent consequence of opioid analgesia that may increase patient risk for emergency department visits and hospitalization. Methylnaltrexone is a peripherally acting µ-opioid receptor antagonist indicated for the treatment of OIC.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the safety and efficacy of a single methylnaltrexone dose.
METHODS: Results were pooled from three randomized, placebo-controlled methylnaltrexone (MNTX) studies in opioid-treated patients with advanced illness and OIC, despite treatment with conventional laxatives. Baseline assessments included demographics, disease/treatment characteristics, and functional levels. Efficacy endpoints included rescue-free laxation (RFL) rates within 4 and 24 h, time to first RFL, pain score change, and adverse events (AEs) after a single MNTX dose or placebo.
RESULTS: The analysis included 281 patients receiving MNTX and 237 receiving placebo. Mean age was 66.2 years for MNTX and 65.8 for placebo; ∼50% were men. The most frequent primary diagnosis was cancer (MNTX = 70.5%; placebo = 66.2%) and most (∼98%) were receiving at least one laxative at baseline. RFL occurred in 61.4% vs. 16.0%, and 72.1% vs. 40.1% MNTX vs. placebo patients, within 4 and 24 h of the initial dose, respectively. Relative to placebo, MNTX use reduced the time to first RFL, with most MNTX-treated patients achieving RFL within 2 h. Baseline and posttreatment pain scores were similar (p = 0.9556 vs. placebo for current and worst pain change from baseline), demonstrating that MNTX did not negatively affect opioid analgesia. Most AEs were gastrointestinal related and dissipated by the second dose.
CONCLUSIONS: Methylnaltrexone provides early RFL without compromising analgesia in patients receiving chronic opioid therapy.