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Med Sci Monit 2000; 6(3): RA618-628
Laxatives have a particularly marked abuse potential. Since they are availablewithout prescription, physicians have no influence whatsoever on frequency of intake and dosage. Thestimulant laxatives are preferentially abused since they are particularly cheap and the nature of theireffect makes them appear suitable to users for non-intended purposes; advertising sometimes reinforcessuch impressions. Stimulants of plant and chemical origin can certainly be regarded as aggressive chemicalsubstances that are pharmacologically active. Available data suggest that it would be advisable to bringthe use of these substances under medical supervision since their widespread abuse and the associatedrisks can only be substantially reduced by such action. This review summarises toxicological data ofstimulant laxatives and other freely available but more safe compounds such as lactulose.