Home > Sustained-release naltrexone for opioid dependence.

Lobmaier, Philipp and Kornor, Hege and Kunoe, Nikolaj and Bjørndal, Arild (2008) Sustained-release naltrexone for opioid dependence. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2), Art. No.: CD006140. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006140.pub2.

External website: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/1...

Methadone, which is a highly addictive drug. Naltrexone is a long-acting, opioid-antagonist that blocks heroin effects. It is used to prevent relapse of both opioid and alcohol dependence. Highly motivated people do best with naltrexone. Most opioid users are sceptical about treatment with naltrexone tablets and many drop out early on. Dropouts can be reduced with supervised tablet taking, offering incentives and using sustained-release naltrexone
such as subcutaneous implants or depot injections.

There is insufficient evidence from randomised controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of sustained-release naltrexone. In the one controlled study that met inclusion criteria, 60 outpatients were randomised to one of three groups that received two sequential depot injections of naltrexone (192 or 384 mg) or placebo injections. The mean dropout time was 48 days with high dose naltrexone compared with 27 days on placebo; an increase in treatment of 21 days (range 11 to 31 days). The lower depot dose gave a lesser benefit. The number retained in treatment at eight weeks did not show a clear difference and ranged from a mean of 68% to 39% of participants in the different groups. 'Wanting heroin' did not differ on naltrexone but 'needing heroin' scored significantly lower with depot naltrexone compared to placebo.

The most prominent adverse effects were general symptoms of fatigue and pain at the injection site. Seventeen reports met inclusion criteria for assessing adverse effects. Seven looked specifically at naltrexone implants for treatment of opioid dependence and wound infection, allergic reaction to the implant and number of implants removed. The majority of the trials did not have a control group and systematic assessment of adverse effects was lacking.

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