FDA OKs new drug for digestive problem

April 25, 2008 9:13:16 AM PDT
Patients with advanced cancers, COPD, Alzheimer's, and AIDS often develop constipation due to opioid painkillers. Drug devleoped by Wyeth could relieve that.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Relistor (mathylnaltrexone bromide), a medication which can help restore bowel function to patients receiving continuous opioid painkillers such as morphine to alleviate pain from terminal illnesses.

Opioids are often prescribed for people with late-stage, advanced illnesses, such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from emphysema, heart failure, Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases. While they get pain relief, the opioids can cause constipation by relaxing the intestinal muscles, and preventing them from pushing out waste products.

Relistor acts by blocking opioids from entering into those muscle cells. It is an injectable medication.

Common side effects include abdominal pain, gas, nausea, dizziness and diarrhea

Relistor is manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, of Collegeville, Pa., and Progenics, of Tarrytown, N.Y.