Lubiprostone for constipation (Amitiza)

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Take one capsule twice daily for two weeks.

Take the capsules with food.

The most common side-effects are feeling sick, diarrhoea and headache.

Type of medicineA chloride-channel activator
Used forConstipation
Also calledAmitiza®
Available asCapsules

Constipation in adults is a common problem. It means either going to the toilet less often than usual to empty the bowels, or passing hard or painful poo (stools) when you do go. It can be caused by not eating enough fibre or not drinking enough fluids, or a lack of exercise or movement (such as being ill in bed). It can also be a side-effect of certain medicines (such as some painkillers), or related to an underlying medical condition. In many cases, the cause is not clear.

Lubiprostone helps to increase secretion of fluid into the bowel. This increases the movement of the bowels, making stools easier to pass. It is helpful for people for whom constipation remains a problem despite recommended changes to lifestyle or diet.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking lubiprostone it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you are so constipated that you think you may have a blockage.
  • If you have any problems with the way your liver works.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about lubiprostone and a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take lubiprostone exactly as your doctor tells you to. The usual dose is one capsule twice daily. A course of treatment lasts for two weeks. Swallow the capsule with a drink of water after a meal, or with a snack. The ideal times to take the capsules are after breakfast and after supper.
  • If you forget to take a dose, leave out the missed dose and take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Remember to keep any regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • A healthy diet containing fibre (wholegrain breads and cereals, bran, fruit and green leafy vegetables) with several glasses of water each day and daily exercise are important in maintaining healthy bowel function. For people who have problems with constipation, foods such as pastries, puddings, sugar, sweets, cheese and cake can make matters worse and are best avoided.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with lubiprostone. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common lubiprostone side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)
What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling sickMake sure you take the capsules during a meal
Common lubiprostone side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
DiarrhoeaDrink plenty of water. If the diarrhoea is severe, let your doctor know
HeadacheAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Chest tightness, feeling short of breathLet your doctor know about this so that your treatment can be reviewed
Feeling dizzyDo not drive or use tools or machines while you feel dizzy
Increased sweating, feeling flushed, swollen feet or ankles, stomach upsetIf troublesome, speak with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the capsules, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light. The capsules can absorb moisture from the air so it is important to keep them in their original container to keep them dry. Do not keep the capsules for longer than four weeks after the container is first opened.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with your other medicines.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Amitiza® 24 microgram soft capsules; Sucampo Pharma Europe Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated October 2013.
  • British National Formulary; 67th Edition (March 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
28928 (v1)
Last Checked:
22/08/2014
Next Review:
21/08/2017
The Information Standard - certified member

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