Opioid challenge evaluation of blockade by extended-release naltrexone in opioid-abusing adults: Dose–effects and time-course

Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bayview Campus, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.
Drug and alcohol dependence (Impact Factor: 3.42). 11/2011; 123(1-3):57-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.10.018
Source: PubMed


Oral naltrexone's effectiveness as an opioid antagonist has been limited due to poor patient adherence. A long-acting naltrexone formulation may be beneficial. This study evaluated the effects of extended-release injectable naltrexone (XR-NTX), targeted for a one-month duration of action, in blocking opioid agonist challenge effects in humans.
Outpatient non-dependent opioid abusers (N=27) were randomly assigned to a single double-blind IM administration of 75, 150, or 300 mg XR-NTX. To assess the extent of opioid blockade, hydromorphone challenges (0, 3, 4.5, 6 mg IM in ascending order at 1-h intervals [up to 13.5 mg total]) were given at pretreatment baseline and on days 7, 14, 21, 28, 42, and 56. Opioid blockade was assessed via (1) tolerability of the ascending hydromorphone doses; (2) visual analog scale (VAS) ratings of subjective opioid effects and (3) pupil diameter. Effects on the VAS and pupils were assessed via the slope of the time-action function over ascending hydromorphone doses, with zero slope indicating complete blockade.
Blockade of the VAS "any drug effect" response to 3 mg hydromorphone was complete for 14, 21, and 28 days, respectively, for the XR-NTX doses of 75, 150, and 300 mg. Subjective effects were more readily blocked than was pupil constriction. Higher hydromorphone doses produced only modest increases in agonist effects. With the 300 mg XR-NTX dose the slope of VAS responses remained at or near zero for one month even with maximal cumulative hydromorphone dosing.
These data quantify the month-long opioid blockade underlying XR-NTX's efficacy in opioid dependence treatment.

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    • "The addition of a single injection of long-acting naltrexone at the outset of treatment was an effort to raise that ceiling and improve long-term retention on oral naltrexone. Since this study was conducted, injection naltrexone (Vivitrol) was approved by the FDA, having very similar pharmacokinetics to the Depotrex used in this study, including blood levels and opioid blockade (Comer et al., 2006; Bigelow et al., 2012). Vivitrol is an expensive medication, and the present results do suggest that transition to oral naltrexone may be a viable option for some patients. "
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    ABSTRACT: Adherence to oral naltrexone has been poor and can be improved somewhat with behavioral therapy. We compared behavioral naltrexone therapy (BNT) to compliance enhancement (CE) and tested efficacy of single-dose injection naltrexone (XR-NTX; 384mg) with behavioral therapies at further improving adherence to oral naltrexone. A 24-week, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (n=125) compared four treatment conditions following inpatient detoxification and oral naltrexone induction: (1) BNT+XR-NTX; (2) BNT+placebo injection; (3) CE+XR-NTX; and (4) CE+placebo injection. All participants were maintained on oral naltrexone throughout the trial. Primary outcome was retention in treatment. Of 89 randomized participants, 78.7% (70/89) completed 4 weeks, 58.2% (54/89) completed 8 weeks, 47.2% (42/89) completed 12 weeks, and 25.8% (23/89) completed 24 weeks. A Cox proportional hazards regression modeled time to dropout as a function of treatment condition, baseline opioid dependence severity (bags per day of heroin use), and their interaction. Interaction of conditions by baseline severity was significant (X3(2)=9.19, p=0.027). For low-severity patients (≤6 bags/day), retention was highest in the BNT-XR-NTX group (60% at 6 months), as hypothesized. For high-severity (>6 bags/day) patients, BNT-XR-NTX did not perform as well, due to high early attrition. For low-severity heroin users, single-dose XR-NTX improved long-term treatment retention when combined with behavioral therapy. In higher-severity opioid-dependent patients, XR-NTX was less helpful, perhaps because, combined with oral naltrexone, it produced higher blood levels and more withdrawal discomfort. When cost considerations recommend oral naltrexone following XR-NTX, the latter should be phased in slowly. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Drug and Alcohol Dependence 12/2014; 147. DOI:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.11.028 · 3.42 Impact Factor
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