Narcotics increase Transit Time

Narcotics increase Transit Time

Amplify’d from
Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1997 Apr;61(4):467-75.

The safety and efficacy of oral methylnaltrexone in preventing morphine-induced delay in oral-cecal transit time.


Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Methylnaltrexone is a quaternary opioid antagonist with limited ability to cross the blood-brain barrier that has the potential to antagonize the peripherally mediated gastrointestinal effects of opioids. In recent trials in human volunteers, we demonstrated that intravenous methylnaltrexone prevented morphine-induced changes in gastrointestinal motility and transit, without affecting analgesia. In this study, 14 healthy volunteers were first given three ascending oral doses of methylnaltrexone to obtain safety and tolerance data (phase A study). In phase B, these subjects were then given single-blind oral placebo and intravenous placebo, followed by randomized, double-blind oral placebo and intravenous morphine (0.05 mg/kg) or oral methylnaltrexone (19.2 mg/kg, an established highest and safe dose based on previous administrations of two smaller doses of 0.64 mg/kg and 6.4 mg/kg in phase A) and intravenous morphine (0.05 mg/kg). Oral-cecal transit time was assessed by the pulmonary hydrogen measurement technique after lactulose ingestion. Morphine significantly increased oral-cecal transit time from 114.6 +/- 37.0 minutes (mean +/- SD) to 158.6 +/- 50.2 minutes (p < 0.001). Oral methylnaltrexone (19.2 mg/kg) completely prevented morphine-induced increase in oral-cecal transit time (110.4 +/- 45.0 minutes; not significant compared with baseline; p < 0.005 compared with morphine alone). These sessions were then followed by single-blind evaluations of descending doses of methylnaltrexone. We observed that 6.4 mg/kg oral methylnaltrexone significantly attenuated the morphine-induced delay in oral-cecal transit time (p < 0.005 compared with morphine alone), and a dose-dependent response was obtained. There was no correlation between oral methylnaltrexone effects on the transit time and the drug plasma concentration, suggesting direct preferential luminal effects of oral methylnaltrexone. Oral methylnaltrexone may have a clinical value in the prevention and treatment of constipation induced by long-term opioid use.



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