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Opioid Use Associated with Gastrointestinal Adverse Events

Patients commonly report straining, hard stools and incomplete evacuation despite laxative use

FRIDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic opioid use for pain is associated with significant gastrointestinal adverse events in spite of laxative use, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Pain Society in San Antonio, Texas.

Jerry W. Snidow, Pharm.D., of GlaxoSmithKline in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and colleagues studied 522 patients with an average 6.4 years of opioid use for back pain (58 percent), neuralgia (8 percent), fibromyalgia (8 percent) and arthritis (7 percent). Laxatives/stool softeners were used by 80 percent of subjects within 30 days of screening and 80 percent of subjects used rescue laxative during the two-week baseline.

The researchers found that subjects reported an average of 2.9 total bowel movements and 1.1 spontaneous bowel movements per week and also had symptoms of straining (92 percent), hard stools (91 percent) and incomplete evacuation (94 percent) despite laxative use. The most commonly reported symptoms of moderate-to-greater severity were bloating (79 percent), intestinal gas (71 percent) and abdominal pain (65 percent).

"Novel therapies are needed to address these persistent opioid-induced gastrointestinal adverse events," the authors conclude.

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