A double-blind, double-dummy, randomized, prospective pilot study of the partial Mu opiate agonist, buprenorphine, for acute detoxification from heroin
The optimum dose of buprenorphine for acute inpatient heroin detoxification has not been determined. This randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, pilot study compares two buprenorphine sublingual tablet dosing schedules to oral clonidine. Heroin users (N = 30) who met DSM-IV criteria for opioid dependence and achieved a Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) score of 13 (moderate withdrawal), were randomized to receive higher dose buprenorphine (HD, 8-8-8-4-2 mg/day on days 1-5), lower dose buprenorphine (LD, 2-4-8-4-2 mg/day on days 1-5), or clonidine (C, 0.2-0.3-0.3-0.2-0.1 mg QID on days 1-5). COWS scores were obtained QID. Twenty-four hours after randomization, the percentages of subjects who achieved suppression of withdrawal, as defined by four consecutive COWS scores <12, were: C = 11%, LD = 40%, and HD = 60%. Generalized estimating equation regression models, controlling for baseline COWS and time, indicated that COWS scores over the course of 5 days were lower in both LD and HD compared to C (chi(2)(2) = 13.28, P = 0.001). Similar analyses examining scores over time on the Adjective Rating Scale for Withdrawal (ARSW) and on a Visual Analog Scale of Opiate Craving (VAS) indicated an overall treatment effect on the VAS accounted for by a significant difference between HD and C, but no overall treatment effect on the ARSW. There were no discontinuations due to treatment-related adverse events. Both HD and LD regimens are safe and efficacious treatment for opioid detoxification, but HD demonstrated superiority to C on a greater number of measures.
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