The Cost of Opioid-Induced Constipation Report

Jun 1, 2022


There has been a sharp increase in the prescribing of opioids to patients with chronic pain. However, despite the debilitating side effect of opioid-induced constipation (OIC), many healthcare professionals continue to prescribe opioids.

The Bowel Interest Group’s latest report, The Cost of Opioid-induced Constipation, sets out to educate primary and secondary healthcare professionals in the management of OIC.


  • Studies suggest that OIC affects between 41% and 57% of patients taking opioids for pain and 87% of patients with terminal cancer using opioids.1
  • Constipation is one of the most common reasons patients avoid taking opioid treatments or stop taking them.
  • Doctors are prescribing laxatives for OIC, even though their effectiveness is limited.
  • In 2021, nearly 23 million opioid analgesic prescriptions were dispensed in the community, at a cost of approximately £202 million.2
  • In 2018-19, the estimated annual spend by NHS England on constipation was £168 million.3

The Report will be published in June, and an expert webinar will follow. If you would like more information or to speak to a spokesperson, please contact 


1. Cobo Dols M., Beato Zambrano C., Cabezón-Gutiérrez L., et al. (2021). One-year efficacy and safety of naloxegol on symptoms and quality of life related to opioid-induced constipation in patients with cancer: KYONAL study. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.
2. Prescription data for section code 040702 (Opioid Analgesic Prescribing), 0106 Laxative Prescribing), and 010606 (PAMORA Prescribing) from Jan 2017 – Dec 2021. Accessed March 2022 from NHS BSA England Prescribing Database and
3. Bowel Interest Group (2020). Cost of constipation report. 2020. Available from:

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The Bowel Interest Group has developed this report with contribution from external partners including Sandoz.

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