The pharmaceutical company Wyeth recently announced that their drug Relistor™ (methylnaltrexone bromide) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of constipation related to the use of opioid pain relievers.
Opioid narcotics are pain relievers that are often used to treat severe pain associated with cancer and other chronic pain conditions. Opioids are chemical substances relieve pain similarly to morphine. These agents work by binding to opioid receptors in the body, which are located in the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract.
Each year more than 1.5 million people undergo palliative treatment with opioids for diseases such as incurable cancer, AIDS, or end-stage heart and lung disease. A common side effect of opioid narcotics is constipation. Relieving constipation can be difficult and may require a combination of diet, fluids, and medications (such as laxatives).
Relistor is a subcutaneous injection approved for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation that has not responded to laxatives. Clinical studies have shown Relistor to significantly decrease the constipating effects of opioids without interfering with pain relief.
Wyeth is hoping to make Relistor available within the United States in early June.
Reference: Progenics and Wyeth announce FDA has Approved Relistor [press release]. Wyeth Web site. Available at: https://www.wyeth.com/news?nav=display&navTo=/wyeth_html/home/news/pressreleases/2008/1209080590441.html. Accessed April 29, 2008.
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