Movantik vs Dulcolax

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For patients dealing with opioid-induced constipation or other types of persistent constipation, certain drugs that adjust the conduct of substances in the body related to bowel movements can aid in managing these symptoms. Movantik and Dulcolax are two such medications often prescribed for this purpose. They each impact different bodily functions but both have overall effects on enhancing bowel movements in patients with constipation.

Movantik is classified as a peripherally-acting mu-opioid receptor antagonist (PAMORA). It works by blocking the effect of opioids, which cause constipation, on gut tissues without reducing pain relief from your opioid medication.

On the contrary, Dulcolax falls under a group known as stimulant laxatives. It works by stimulating intestinal muscles to increase bowel movements and also softens stools by increasing water content in intestines.

What is Movantik?

Naloxegol (the generic name for Movantik) was a significant development in the class of peripherally-acting mu-opioid receptor antagonists, designed to treat opioid-induced constipation without reversing the pain-relieving effects of the opioids. It was first approved by the FDA in 2014. Movantik works by blocking opioid receptors in the gut, effectively preventing them from slowing down bowel movements. It is prescribed specifically for adult patients who have chronic non-cancer pain and are experiencing constipation as a side effect of their opioid use.

In contrast, Bisacodyl (the generic name for Dulcolax) is an over-the-counter stimulant laxative that has been available since 1952. This drug increases intestinal activities to help stimulate bowel movements. While both medications can alleviate constipation, they work differently and are used under different circumstances: Movantik primarily targets opioid-induced constipation while Dulcolax is used more generally.

What conditions is Movantik approved to treat?

Movantik is approved for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation (OIC) in adult patients with chronic non-cancer pain, including those with chronic pain related to prior cancer or its treatment who do not require frequent opioid dosage escalation. On the other hand, Dulcolax is used for relieving occasional constipation and irregularity. It may also be utilized to clean out the intestines before a bowel examination/surgery and treats conditions like:

  • Temporary relief of occasional constipation and irregularity
  • Bowel preparation regimen for colonoscopy

How does Movantik help with these illnesses?

Movantik helps to manage opioid-induced constipation by blocking the effect of opioids on the mu-receptors in the gut. It does this by competitively binding to these receptors, so that opioids cannot exert their usual effects. Opioids are substances that interact with specific receptors in the brain and other parts of the body and are often used for pain relief, but one common side effect is constipation due to reduced intestinal motility. Movantik acts as a peripherally-acting mu-opioid receptor antagonist (PAMORA), meaning it works primarily in peripheral tissue such as the gastrointestinal tract rather than central nervous system locations like the brain. By blocking opioid action, Movantik can counteract constipation without impacting pain relief provided from opioid usage.

On another hand, Dulcolax or bisacodyl acts directly on cells in your intestines known as enterocytes. It stimulates them to secrete more fluid into your bowels and also prompts rhythmic contractions known as peristalsis which moves stool along towards evacuation point. Therefore, both drugs provide solutions for different types of constipation; whereas Dulcolax may be chosen for general sluggishness or irregularity, Movantik specifically targets opioid-induced issues.

What is Dulcolax?

Dulcolax is a brand name for bisacodyl, which is a stimulant laxative. It works by increasing the movement of the intestines to help stool come out. This drug was first approved in 1952 and continues to be a common choice for individuals struggling with occasional constipation or irregular bowel movements. As Dulcolax does not work through fluid absorption or bulk-forming mechanisms like some other laxatives, it has its own side-effect profile which primarily includes stomach cramps and discomfort. In contrast to opioid-induced constipation treatments such as Movantik, Dulcolax does not interact with opioid receptors in the gut wall but instead irritates the lining of the colon, triggering muscle contractions that propel stool along. Thus it can provide relief from constipation regardless of cause, making it an effective option especially for those who don't respond well to gentler methods such as increased dietary fiber intake.

What conditions is Dulcolax approved to treat?

Dulcolax is a widely used medication approved for the treatment of:

  • Occasional constipation
  • Preparation of diagnostic procedures, in pre-and postoperative treatment when defecation needs to be facilitated.

It works by stimulating bowel movements to bring on a bowel movement within 6 to 12 hours of consumption, providing relief from uncomfortable symptoms.

How does Dulcolax help with these illnesses?

Dulcolax is a stimulant laxative that plays roles in many processes of the body, particularly affecting bowel movements by stimulating intestinal muscles to increase stool passage. It also increases fluid and salt levels in intestines which can soften stools. Its effectiveness has been proven in treating occasional constipation, a common issue for many individuals. The active ingredient, bisacodyl, works directly on the colon to produce a bowel movement within 6-12 hours after taking it. Movantik acts differently as it primarily targets opioid-induced constipation by blocking the effects of opioids on gut tissues without impacting their pain-relief benefits elsewhere in the body. However, Dulcolax might be preferred when patients are dealing with general constipation issues not specifically related to opioid use or when immediate relief is required due to its quicker action time.

How effective are both Movantik and Dulcolax?

Both naloxegol (Movantik) and bisacodyl (Dulcolax) have proven to be effective in treating constipation, but they were approved by the FDA several decades apart and work through different mechanisms. Movantik is an opioid antagonist specifically designed for opioid-induced constipation while Dulcolax is a stimulant laxative that increases movement of the intestines.

A 2014 double-blind clinical trial studying the effectiveness of Movantik in alleviating opioid-induced constipation found similar efficacy between lower and higher doses. In this study, patients receiving Movantik reported significant improvements in symptoms compared to those receiving a placebo, regardless of whether they received higher or lower doses.

A review from 2005 indicated that Dulcolax has been widely recommended for short-term use due to its well-established safety profile over many years. The same study reports that it has become one of the most commonly used laxatives around the world. It's thought to start showing effects within 6-12 hours after oral administration or within 15-60 minutes if administered rectally.

In contrast, a recent meta-analysis from 2019 suggested that although Movantik shows promising results against opioid-induced constipation, its long-term safety profile still needs further investigation. It's typically considered as second-line therapy when other non-pharmacological interventions fail or are insufficient. Significant research on its use involves co-prescription with opioids so data confirming its efficacy as monotherapy is less robust than for Dulcolax. Nonetheless, because of its specific action against opioid receptors in the gut without affecting analgesic effect on central nervous system receptors, Movantik may offer unique benefits for patients who did not respond well to common laxatives like Dulcolax or have particular need such as chronic non-cancer pain treated with opioids.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Movantik typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Movantik, used for opioid-induced constipation in adults, are typically 25 mg once daily. Clinical trials have shown this to be an effective dosage for most patients. If side effects are intolerable at this dose, it may be reduced to 12.5 mg/day. In contrast, Dulcolax is used for temporary relief of occasional constipation and irregularity; the recommended oral dosage varies from 1–3 tablets (5–15 mg) per day for adults and children over 10 years old. Dosage adjustments can be made based on individual response. The maximum dosage that should not be exceeded is three tablets (15mg) a day.

At what dose is Dulcolax typically prescribed?

Dulcolax treatment typically begins with a dose of 5–15 mg (1-3 tablets) orally once daily. The dosage can then be adjusted according to the individual's response and tolerance, generally not exceeding 30 mg (6 tablets) per day. For optimal results, Dulcolax should ideally be taken at bedtime to produce a bowel movement the following morning. This medication is intended for short-term use only and should not be used for longer than one week unless directed by a healthcare professional. As always, if there's no satisfactory response after several days of using Dulcolax, it would be prudent to seek medical advice.

What are the most common side effects for Movantik?

Common side effects of Movantik may include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea or loose stools
  • Excessive gas in the stomach or intestines
  • Headache

While Dulcolax might cause:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Mild nausea
  • Rectal burning after using the rectal suppository form.

Both drugs can potentially cause more serious side effects and should be used under medical supervision. Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed applies to your personal circumstances.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Movantik?

While Movantik and Dulcolax are both used to treat constipation, their side effects can vary. In rare cases, Movantik may cause serious health issues such as:

  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms: anxiety, sweating, chills, yawning excessively
  • Allergic reactions: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Stomach pain or bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting (sometimes severe enough to require hospitalization)
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Unusual weakness or tiredness

On the other hand, Dulcolax may also lead to certain adverse effects including:

  • Allergic reactions like skin rash; itching or hives; swelling of the face, lips or tongue
  • Dehydration symptoms - feeling very thirsty or hot with inability to urinate
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) characterized by headache with chest pain and severe dizziness If you experience any of these concerning side effects while taking either medication reach out to your healthcare provider immediately for guidance.

What are the most common side effects for Dulcolax?

Dulcolax, a widely used laxative medication, may cause some side effects including:

  • Stomach cramps or discomfort
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Mild dizziness
  • Increased sweating due to abdominal unease
  • Possible skin rashes in rare cases It's important to note that these symptoms are usually mild and temporary. However, if they persist or worsen over time, patients should seek immediate medical attention. Unlike Movantik which is specifically designed for opioid-induced constipation, Dulcolax has a broader application for treating general constipation issues.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Dulcolax?

While Dulcolax is widely used and generally well-tolerated, some users may experience adverse reactions. These can include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Rectal bleeding or no bowel movement after using Dulcolax. This could indicate a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention.
  • Severe and persistent stomach pain, nausea or vomiting.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness due to dehydration from diarrhea. Make sure you stay hydrated when taking this medication.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeats - While rare, it's important to seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms while on the medication.

Remember always to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new medications and immediately report any unusual side effects once you start taking them.

Contraindications for Movantik and Dulcolax?

Both Movantik and Dulcolax, along with most other medications used to treat constipation, may exacerbate symptoms in some individuals. If you notice your condition worsening or experience severe abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or changes in bowel movements that persist over time, seek immediate medical assistance.

Neither Movantik nor Dulcolax should be taken if you are currently on certain types of gastrointestinal medications like gastric motility drugs or have recently been taking them. Always inform your healthcare provider about all the medications and supplements you are consuming; some of these drugs might require a period to clear from the system to prevent dangerous interactions with both Movantik and Dulcolax.

How much do Movantik and Dulcolax cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 30 tablets of Movantik (25 mg) averages around $400, which works out to about $13/day.
  • The price of a box containing 100 Dulcolax tablets is approximately $20, working out to roughly $0.20 per day.

This means that if you are taking one dose daily, then brand-name Dulcolax is considerably less expensive on a per-day treatment basis than Movantik. However, please note that cost should not be the primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you as they have different mechanisms and indications.

As for generic versions, Naloxegol (the active ingredient in Movantik), costs are significantly lower:

  • Naloxegol is available with prices ranging from $1-$2 per tablet depending on dosage strength.
  • Bisacodyl (the active ingredient in Dulcolax) can be found at an average retail price below $0.10/tablet.

The availability and prices may vary based on your location and insurance coverage. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new medication regimen.

Popularity of Movantik and Dulcolax

Naloxegol, sold under the brand name Movantik among others, is an opioid antagonist that is prescribed to treat constipation caused by opioids. According to data collected in 2020, approximately 1.4 million prescriptions for naloxegol were filled in the US, which made up around 7% of all prescriptions written for drugs used to manage opioid-induced constipation (OIC). The prescription rate has been increasing slowly since its introduction due to increased recognition and treatment of OIC.

Bisacodyl, known by many as Dulcolax and other names, was prescribed nearly 2.8 million times in the USA during the same year. This accounts for more than half of laxative prescriptions overall given its wide range of uses beyond just OIC - including preparation for certain medical procedures like colonoscopies or general constipation relief. Over-the-counter availability also contributes significantly to bisacodyl's popularity compared with naloxegol’s prescription-only status. Bisacodyl's use has remained relatively constant over recent years owing to its longstanding reputation as a reliable laxative.


Both Movantik (naloxegol) and Dulcolax (bisacodyl) are widely used in managing constipation, with a vast array of clinical studies proving their effectiveness over placebo treatments. They have different mechanisms of action; Movantik is an opioid antagonist which specifically targets the mu-opioid receptors in the gut to relieve opioid-induced constipation, while Dulcolax acts as a stimulant laxative to increase bowel movements. As such, they tend to be prescribed under different circumstances: Movantik is often considered for patients suffering from constipation due to long-term opioid use, whereas Dulcolax serves as a more general treatment option.

Both medications are available in generic form—providing significant cost savings especially for patients paying out-of-pocket—but it's important to note that unlike Dulcolax which can be purchased over-the-counter, Movantik requires a physician's prescription.

In terms of side effects profile, both drugs are generally well-tolerated although each has its own set of potential adverse reactions. With Movantik there may include abdominal pain or discomfort and diarrhea; whereas with Dulcolax common side effects range from cramping to nausea. Patients should always communicate any concerning symptoms with their healthcare provider during treatment.