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Treatment Name: Polyethylene Glycol (MiraLAX®)

Polyethylene Glycol (MiraLAX®) is a Supportive Care Therapy to treat Constipation

How does polyethylene glycol work?
Polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®) is designed to prevent your intestines from absorbing some of the water you drink. When extra water is kept within the intestines, it softens the stool and stimulates the intestines, which produces a bowel movement.

Goals of therapy:
Polyethylene glycol is taken to relieve occasional constipation. It is commonly taken on an as needed basis with the goal of treating constipation.

Polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®) is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication.

Schedule

Polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®) is commonly taken at home on an as needed basis to treat constipation and maintain normal, regular bowel movements daily or every other day. When dosed adequately, polyethylene glycol generally induces a bowel movement in approximately one to three days.

Polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®) powder:

  • Fill bottle cap with polyethylene glycol powder to the indicated line (17 grams), then mix with 4 to 8 ounces of any beverage (can be cold, hot or room temperature) until dissolved, then drink beverage. Do not take more than once a day unless instructed by your doctor or pharmacist.

Polyethylene glycol powder packets:

  • Mix one packet (17 grams) with 4 to 8 ounces of any beverage (can be cold, hot or room temperature) until dissolved, then drink beverage. Do not take more than once a day unless instructed by your doctor or pharmacist.

Polyethylene glycol is usually taken at home. Typical duration of therapy is until polyethylene glycol no longer works in relieving constipation, or constipation is resolved and polyethylene glycol is no longer needed. Do not take polyethylene glycol for more than seven days without talking to your doctor.

Store polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®) at room temperature (68°F – 77°F).

Side Effects

In the prescribing label information (polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®) package insert), the most commonly reported side effects from polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®) are shown here:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Loose, watery bowel movements
  • More frequent bowel movements
  • Nausea (rare)
  • Vomiting (rare)

Note: Nausea or vomiting may also be due to other medications, conditions, or severe constipation rather than polyethylene glycol.

Note: The exact percentages of patients that will experience polyethylene glycol side effects is unknown because it has been used under widely varying patient populations in a variety of clinical trials.

Stop using polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®) if you have diarrhea, bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool, or if cramping in the abdomen (belly) gets worse.

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Monitoring

How often is monitoring needed?
Labs (blood tests) are usually not necessary to start or continue polyethylene glycol therapy.

How often is imaging needed?
Imaging may be checked if there is concern of a small bowel obstruction (SBO) or blockage. Imaging may include: Abdominal X-ray, or CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis.

How might blood test results/imaging affect treatment?
Depending upon the results, your doctor may advise to continue polyethylene glycol as planned, add additional laxatives, place you on “bowel rest” (nothing by mouth until the obstruction clears), or switch to an alternative therapy for constipation.

ChemoExperts Tips

  • Polyethylene glycol is an inexpensive, yet effective over-the-counter remedy for constipation
  • To maintain regular bowel movements, polyethylene glycol may be combined with over-the-counter scheduled senna + docusate. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have trouble maintaining normal bowel movements
  • If you are receiving chemotherapy, do NOT attempt to use an enema or suppository unless you have discussed this with your doctor. Use of enemas or suppositories could cause a tear in the rectum and may lead to a serious infection
  • Walking helps to stimulate the bowels to move stool down the intestinal tract. A diet high in fiber (found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) also helps to maintain a healthy colon (large intestine)
  • It is important to have regular bowel movements, usually once daily or every other day. Otherwise, your small bowel (intestine) may become blocked. Call your doctor if you have not had a bowel movement for 3 days or more, especially if you feel bloated. If you feel pain in your abdomen/belly, feel nauseated, or vomit at any point while constipated, call your doctor immediately
  • A pharmacist should ALWAYS review your medication list to ensure that drug interactions are prevented or managed appropriately

Patient Assistance & Co-payment Coverage

Patients under the age of 65 years, or those with private insurance plans:
If you have insurance and are looking for patient assistance or copay assistance for Polyethylene Glycol (MiraLAX®), we have provided links that may help.

Visit our Patient Assistance page and click the links to various patient assistance programs for help paying for Polyethylene Glycol (MiraLAX®). Depending upon your income, they may be able to help cover the cost of:

  • Polyethylene Glycol (MiraLAX®)

For Branded medications (may be available for generic medications too), check with the manufacturer to determine if a co-pay card is offered and if it could reduce your monthly copay.

  • If you are uninsured, check with the manufacturer to determine if you are eligible to receive medication at no cost.

Medicare and Medicaid patients (Patients 65 years or older):
The clinic providing treatment will likely pre-authorize medications and immune therapies such as Polyethylene Glycol (MiraLAX®) and are the best source to help you understand drug cost.

  • Ask to speak with a patient assistance technician or financial counselor at the clinic or hospital administering this therapy.

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References

Polyethylene Glycol prescribing label information. (MiraLAX) package insert.

Created: September 2, 2017 Updated: September 2, 2017

What is Constipation?

Many treatment options for constipation exist. Watch our video to learn more about constipation and available treatments.