|Trade names||Colace, Ex-Lax Stool Softener, others|
|By mouth or rectally|
|Drug class||Stool softener|
|Onset of action||12 hrs to 5 days|
|Duration of action||3 days|
|E number||E480 (thickeners, ...)|
|CompTox Dashboard (EPA)|
|Chemical and physical data|
|Molar mass||444.56 g·mol−1|
|3D model (JSmol)|
|Melting point||153 to 157 °C (307 to 315 °F)|
|Solubility in water||1 in 70 parts mg/mL (20 °C)|
Salts of this anion, especially docusate sodium, are widely used in medicine as laxatives and as stool softeners, by mouth or rectally. Docusate sodium is on the WHO List of Essential Medicines. It is a widely available and relatively inexpensive generic medication, with more than six million prescriptions in the US in 2017. Other docusate salts with medical use include those of calcium and potassium.
The main medical use of docusate sodium is to treat constipation, acting as a laxative and stool softener. In painful anorectal conditions such as hemorrhoid and anal fissures, it can help avoid pain caused by straining during bowel movements.
Sodium docusate is recommended as a stool softener for children. However, its effectiveness for constipation is poorly supported by evidence. Multiple studies have found docusate to be no more effective than a placebo for improving constipation. Others have found it to be less useful for the treatment of chronic constipation than psyllium.
Other medical uses
Precautions and contraindications
When taken by mouth it should be ingested with plenty of water.
Serious allergic reactions may occur with the drug. The most severe side effect of docusate, although very rare, is rectal bleeding.
Mechanism of action
The effect of docusate may not necessarily be all due to its surfactant properties. Perfusion studies suggest that docusate inhibits fluid absorption or stimulates secretion in the portion of the small intestine known as the jejunum.[medical citation needed]
Pharmaceutical brand names
In the U.S., docusate sodium for pharmaceutical use is available under multiple brand names: Aqualax, Calube, Colace, Colace Micro-Enema, Correctol Softgel Extra Gentle, DC-240, Dialose, Diocto, Dioctocal, Dioctosoftez, Dioctyn, Dionex, Doc-Q-Lace, Docu Soft, Docucal, Doculax, Docusoft S, DOK, DOS, Doss-Relief, DSS, Dulcolax - Stool Softener (not to be confused with another drug marketed under the Dulcolax brand, bisacodyl, which is a stimulant laxative), Ex-Lax Stool Softener, Fleet Sof-Lax, Genasoft, Kasof, Laxa-basic, Modane Soft, Octycine-100, Pedia-Lax, Preferred Plus Pharmacy Stool Softener, Regulax SS, Sulfalax Calcium, Sur-Q-Lax, Surfak Stool Softener, and Therevac-SB. Generic preparations are also available.
In the UK, dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate is sold under the brand name Docusol (Typharm Ltd) and DulcoEase (Boehringer Ingelheim).
In Australia, dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate is sold as Coloxyl and Coloxyl with senna.
In India, preparations include Laxatin by Alembic, Doslax by Raptakos Laboratories, Cellubril by AstraZeneca, and Laxicon by Stadmed.
Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate is used as a surfactant in a wide range of applications, often under the name Aerosol-OT. It is unusual in that it is able to form microemulsions without the use of co-surfactants, and it has a rich variety of aqueous-phase behavior including multiple liquid crystalline phases.
Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate has been approved by the US FDA as a "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) additive. It is used in a variety of food products, as a surface active agent, stabilizer, thickener, wetting agent, processing aid, solubilizing agent, emulsifier, and dispersant. The highest amount found in food products is 0.5% by weight, which include pasteurized cheese spreads, cream cheeses and salad dressings. The FDA also approved its use as a wetting agent or solubilizer for flavoring agents in carbonated and non-carbonated drinks at levels up to 10 parts per million.
Non-medical brand names
As a surfactant, docusate sodium is or has been commercialized under many brand names, including DSSj Aerosol OT, Alphasol OT, Colace, Complemix, Coprol, Dioctylal, Dioctyl-Medo Forte, Diotilan, Diovac, Disonate, Doxinate, Doxol, Dulsivac, Molatoc, Molofac, Nevax, Norval, Regutol, Softili, Solusol, Sulfimel DOS, Vatsol OT, Velmol, and Waxsol
Structure and properties
The structural formula of the docusate anion is R−O−C(=O)−CH(SO−
2−C(=O)−O−R, where R is the 2-ethylhexyl group H
2−. The conjugate acid can be described as the twofold carboxylate ester of sulfosuccinic acid with 2-ethylhexanol.
Solubility of dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate in water is 14 g/L at 25 °C, increasing to 55 g/L at 70 °C. Solubility is better in less polar solvents: 1:30 in ethanol, 1:1 in chloroform and diethylether, and practically unlimited in petroleum ether (25 °C). It also is highly soluble in glycerol, although this is a rather polar solvent. It is also highly soluble in xylene, oleic acid, acetone, diacetone alcohol, methanol, isopropanol, 2-butanol, methyl acetate, ethyl acetate, furfurol, and vegetable oils.
- −CH=CH− + HSO−
3 → −CH(−SO−
Ingestion may cause the side effects described above, such as diarrhea, intestinal bloating, and occasionally cramping pains. Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate is not known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic.
Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate is of low toxicity for crustaceans such as the hermit crab Clibanarius erythropus and the shrimp Crangon crangon. Toxicity for molluscs varies widely, with 48-hour LD50 found between 5 mg/l for the common limpet and 100 mg/l for the common periwinkle. Various species of phytoplankton have an LD50 around 8 mg/l.
In a 2010 study, dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate exhibited higher toxicity against bacteria (Vibrio fischeri, Anabaena sp.) and algae (Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata) than did a number of fluorinated surfactants (PFOS, PFOA, or PFBS). Measuring bioluminescence inhibition of the bacteria and growth inhibition of the algae, the LD50 were in the range of 43–75 mg/l. Combinations of the fluorinated compounds with dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate showed mid to highly synergistic effects in most settings, meaning that such combinations are significantly more toxic than the individual substances.
The substance is highly toxic for rainbow trout with a median lethal concentration (LC50) of 0.56 mg/l after 48 hours for the pure substance. It is only slightly to moderately toxic for rainbow trout fingerlings, and slightly toxic for harlequin rasboras (LC50 27 mg/l of a 60% formulation after 48 hours).
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