Community Resource for Patients and Families: Useful Medications

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Selective Review and Commentary on Emerging Pharmacotherapies for Opioid Addiction.

Category:  Useful Medications

Last Update:  04/15/14 (Dr. Maria Sullivan, MD, PhD and Danielle M. Simpson, MS I)

Findings:

This 2011 article describes several new medications available for the treatment for opioid addiction. Many new therapies have been developed in recent years, in light of the ongoing epidemic of opioid addiction and its association with HIV and other infectious diseases.

Examples of newer medications include:

•     Lofexidine: This medication, originally used to treat high blood pressure, has been found to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.  Side effects may include dizziness, weakness, or low blood pressure.

•     Probuphine®: This proposed new method of delivering buprenorphine by slow-release rods inserted under the skin, and releasing buprenorphine for 6 months, has not yet been approved by the FDA but would prevent misuse and illicit sharing of doses of buprenorphine.

•     Suboxone®: A new sublingual film form of buprenorphine + naloxone has several advantages over the previous sublingual tablets.  The film dissolves more quickly, is better tasting, has child-proof packaging, and carries a unique identifying number on the package for tracking purposes.

•     Vivitrol®: This injectable, extended-release form of naltrexone can be given once a month (every 4 weeks), provides consistent dosing and blood levels, and makes it easier for patients to benefit from the medication by eliminating the need for daily doses and thus improving compliance.  It is generally safe and well tolerated, but reported side effects include nausea, vomiting, headache, and dizziness, which are all symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal.  Injection site reactions are uncommon but could include redness at the site or tenderness for a few days.

Reference:

Ling W, Mooney L, Zhao M, Nielsen S, Torrington M, Miotto K.  (2011). Selective review and commentary on emerging pharmacotherapies for opioid addiction.  Substance Abuse Rehabilitation, 2:181-188.