Oral naloxegol was well tolerated and increased the frequency of spontaneous bowel movements in patients with opioid-induced constipation without compromising analgesia or inducing opioid withdrawal.
Naloxegol (previously known as NKTR-118) is a peripherally acting μ-opioid receptor antagonist engineered using polymer conjugate technology in development as an oral, once-daily agent for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation (OIC). Eligible patients with OIC (n = 207), defined as <3 spontaneous bowel movements (SBMs) per week with accompanying symptoms, on a stable opioid regimen of 30–1000 mg/day morphine equivalents for ≥2 weeks were randomized to receive 4 weeks of double-blind placebo or naloxegol (5, 25, or 50 mg) once daily in sequential cohorts after a 1-week placebo run-in. The primary end point, median change from baseline in SBMs per week after week 1 of drug administration, was statistically significant for the 25- and 50-mg naloxegol cohorts vs placebo (2.9 vs 1.0 [P = 0.0020] and 3.3 vs 0.5 [P = 0.0001], respectively). The increase in SBMs vs placebo was maintained over 4 weeks for naloxegol 25 mg (3.0 vs 0.8 [P = 0.0022]) and 50 mg (3.5 vs 1.0 [P < 0.0001]). Naloxegol was generally well tolerated across all dosages. The most frequent adverse events (AEs) were abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea. Most AEs at 5 and 25 mg/day were mild and transient. Similar AEs occurred with increased frequency and severity in the 50-mg cohort. There was no evidence of a statistically significant increase from baseline in pain, opioid use for the 25- and 50-mg cohorts, or centrally mediated opioid withdrawal signs and/or symptoms with naloxegol. These data demonstrate that once-daily oral naloxegol improves the frequency of SBMs compared with placebo and is generally well tolerated in this population of patients with OIC.