Study on Drug's Effectiveness in Relieving Constipation Caused by Pain Medications

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UCLA is seeking adults using opioid prescription medications for chronic pain --- such as codeine, Vicodin, Percocet and morphine --- for a study gauging the effectiveness of a drug in relieving constipation, a common side effect of opioid medications. More than 25 percent of Americans have chronic pain, and several million take opioid prescription pain relievers.

"A third of Americans taking these types of pain relievers experience constipation --- it's the most common complication with opioid therapy," said principal investigator Dr. Brennan M.R. Spiegel, assistant professor-in-residence of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Department of Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and director of the UCLA-VA Center for Outcomes Research and Education.

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The study will help assess the effectiveness of the drug tegaserod in alleviating opioid-induced constipation. The drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with constipation and chronic idiopathic constipation.

To participate in the 12-week study, volunteers must be 18 years or older. After an initial screening phase, study participants will be randomly chosen to receive either one of two dosages of tegaserod or a placebo.

Volunteers will be asked to undergo blood tests, an electrocardiogram, a urine test, height and weight measurements, and possibly a colonoscopy.

The most common side effects of tegaserod are abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, headache, dizziness, migraine, and leg and back pain.

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