Polyethylene glycol (PEG) 3350 is an osmotic laxative used for the treatment of occasionalconstipation. Lily Tran, MD, and Jack DiPalma, MD, recently conducted a study confirmingthe short-term efficacy of PEG 3350 during a 14-day treatment period and evaluating its residualeffectiveness during a 30-day posttreatment observation period. The participants (n = 50;42 women; mean age, 52 years; mean symptom duration, 22.6 months), who met Rome IIcriteria for constipation and reported <3 bowel movements a week, were treated with PEG3350 17 g/day for 14 days.
During treatment, 2 participants were lost to follow-up, 2 took enemas or other laxatives,and 2 discontinued because of flatulence. At the end of treatment, 83.3% (40/48) had >3stools in the last week and no longer met Rome criteria. After the 30-day observation period,61.7% (29/47) reported needing laxative treatment. These results, reported in the Journalof Clinical Gastroenterology (August 2005), revealed that, although PEG 3350 effectivelyrelieved constipation during the treatment period, it did not offer lasting effectiveness inmost participants once treatment was stopped.