Alkermes Inc. said Tuesday that a clinical trial shows one of its drug candidates can relieve constipation caused by use of opioid pain medications without reducing the effectiveness of the pain drugs.
Alkermes said the two largest doses of its drug, which is designated ALKS 37, were both significantly more effective than a placebo. The company plans to move the drug into more advanced clinical testing, starting a new program by the middle of this year. Opioid drugs are often used to treat severe chronic pain, but the drugs often cause constipation and bowel problems.
The clinical trial involved 87 patients who were taking opioid medications for chronic, non-cancer pain. The patients were given either ALKS 37 or a placebo once per day for two weeks. Patients who took the two highest doses, 30 milligrams per day and 100 milligrams per day, had a significant increase in their number of bowel movements per week compared to patients who took the placebo. Alkermes said patients who took the 100 milligram dose also had a significant increase in completed bowel movements per week.
The company said patients who took ALKS 37 did not report an increase in pain and did not use more pain medication than patients who took the placebo.
The most common side effects of the drug were abdominal pain and diarrhea. Alkermes said it will present full results from the study at a medical conference.
In afternoon trading, Alkermes stock rose 35 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $14.35.