Sustained-release naltrexone: Novel treatment for opioid dependence
The devastating costs of opioid abuse and dependence underscore the need for effective treatments for these disorders. At present, several different maintenance medications exist for treating opioid dependence, including methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Of these, naltrexone is the only one that possesses no opioid agonist effects. Instead, naltrexone occupies opioid receptors and prevents or reverses the effects produced by opioid agonists. Despite its clear pharmacologic effectiveness, its clinical effectiveness in treating opioid dependence has been disappointing, primarily due to non-compliance with taking the medication. However, the recent availability of sustained-release formulations of naltrexone has renewed interest in this medication. The present paper describes the development of sustained-release naltrexone formulations and discusses the clinical issues associated with their use in treating opioid dependence.
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