Chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) affects up to 20% of adults and can interfere with activities of daily living. Up to 4% of adults in the United States receive chronic opioid therapy and up to 57% of patients on long-term opioids for CNCP report opioid-induced constipation (OIC). OIC is essentially constipation occurring after starting opioid treatment. While laxatives are traditionally the first-line therapy for OIC, 81% of patients taking daily laxatives and opioids still reported OIC and considered that it negatively affected their quality of life. Naldemedine is a peripherally acting µ-opioid receptor antagonists (PAMORA) approved for the treatment of OIC in patients with CNCP. This article reviews the mechanism of action, efficacy, and safety of naldemedine in CNCP patients. Naldemedine improves OIC in patients with CNCP by acting as an opioid receptor antagonist in the gastrointestinal tract. It does not interfere with the analgesic properties of opioids or cause withdrawal symptoms since these effects are centrally mediated, and naldemedine does not cross the blood brain barrier. Naldemedine showed significant and sustained improvement in frequency of bowel movements, quality of life, and constipation-related symptoms. It is generally well tolerated with a higher incidence of gastrointestinal adverse events of mild or moderate severity such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, or vomiting compared to placebo. While there are no randomized, controlled trials that compare head-to-head pharmacological therapies used for treatment of OIC, network meta-analysis shows that naldemedine has an overall good benefit-risk profile compared to the other approved medications.
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