About Constipation From Opioid Use

If you or a loved one is living with chronic pain, your doctor may have prescribed an opioid to help manage the condition.

Opioids can help alleviate pain. But many patients receiving opioid treatment will develop constipation.

A specific type of constipation

The first treatments used for constipation usually include changes in your lifestyle (such as increasing the amount of fluid you drink and getting more physical activity) and laxatives (medications that can cause a bowel movement).

But constipation from opioid use is a specific type of constipation, and it’s one of the most common side effects of pain management with opioids. It’s different from other types of constipation because it is caused by the way opioids work to relieve pain in your body.

If left untreated, this type of constipation can lead to stomach pain, vomiting, and stools that don’t move. These stools can accumulate and harden in your intestines.

If you are on opioids for pain associated with an advanced illness or chronic non-cancer pain and are experiencing constipation, ask your doctor about RELISTOR.


RELISTOR® is a prescription medicine used to treat constipation that is caused by prescription pain medicines called opioids, in adults:

  • with long-lasting (chronic) pain that is not caused by cancer.
  • receiving treatment for advanced illness, when other medicines for constipation have not worked well enough.
    • It is not known if RELISTOR is safe and effective if used for longer than 4 months in people with advanced illness.

Important Safety Information

Do not take RELISTOR® (methylnaltrexone bromide) Subcutaneous Injection if you have or may have a blockage in your intestines (called an intestinal obstruction) or a history of bowel blockage.

RELISTOR can cause serious side effects such as a tear in your stomach or intestinal wall (perforation). Stomach pain that is severe can be a sign of a serious medical condition. If you get stomach pain that does not go away, stop taking RELISTOR and get emergency medical help right away.

Stop using RELISTOR and call your healthcare provider if you get diarrhea that is severe or that does not go away during treatment with RELISTOR.

You may have symptoms of opioid withdrawal during treatment with RELISTOR including sweating, chills, diarrhea, stomach pain, anxiety, and yawning. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have kidney problems or if you have any stomach or bowel (intestines) problems, including stomach ulcer, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, cancer of the stomach or bowel, or Ogilvie’s syndrome. Also, tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Taking RELISTOR during pregnancy may cause opioid withdrawal symptoms in your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant during treatment with RELISTOR. It is not known if RELISTOR passes into your breast milk. Taking RELISTOR while you are breastfeeding may cause opioid withdrawal in your baby. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you will take RELISTOR or breastfeed. You should not do both.

The most common side effects of RELISTOR in people with long-lasting (chronic) pain that is not caused by cancer include: stomach-area (abdomen) pain, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, hot flush, tremor, and chills.

The most common side effects of RELISTOR in people receiving treatment for their advanced illness include: stomach-area (abdomen) pain, gas, nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For product information, adverse event reports, and product complaint reports, please contact:

Salix Product Information Call Center
Phone: 1-800-508-0024
Fax: 1-510-595-8183
Email: valeantmc@dlss.com

Click here for full Prescribing Information.

See More