Navigation Links
Drug that helps adults addicted to opioid drugs also relieves withdrawal symptoms in newborns

(PHILADELPHIA) - Thousands of infants each year have exposure to opioids before they are born. Over half of these infants are born with withdrawal symptoms severe enough to require opioid replacement treatment in the nursery. Such treatment is associated with long hospital stays which interferes with maternal/infant bonding. Now, a team of researchers at Thomas Jefferson University has tested a semi-synthetic opioid they say has the potential to improve the treatment of these newborns, which could save hundreds of millions in healthcare costs annually if future tests continue to show benefit.

In the October 6th online issue of Addiction, the researchers say that using buprenorphine in a dozen addicted infants was both safe and successful and reduced days of treatment by 40 percent, compared to use of morphine in 12 other infants randomized to this treatment. The difference was 23 days of treatment versus 38 days.

"Given further study, such a beneficial drug could provide a new standard of treatment in a field where a well-defined therapeutic approach doesn't exist," says the study's lead author, Walter Kraft, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Jefferson.

"Not only do we think buprenorphine is an excellent choice to treat neonatal opioid withdrawal, but it may prove to also be cost effective," he says. "There are not good numbers to work with but we estimate up to 16,000 infants each year are at risk for the syndrome. If you assume the costs for this treatment are $2,000 a day over an average 30 days of hospitalization, annual charges for this treatment can be up to $1 billion."

"If we were to reduce hospital stay by just 20 percent, that would save $150 million," Dr. Kraft adds.

The investigative team, which includes experts in neonatology, addictions, clinical pharmacology and pediatric neurology are the first physicians to test buprenorphine in newborns. Buprenorphine is finding increased use in the treatment of adults with opioid dependence.

In infants, the agent was given sublingually under the tongue and to keep it there until it is absorbed, the physicians gave the babies pacifiers to suck. "This is the only report of a sublingual drug ever used in infants," Kraft says.

Many of the mothers of the infants receive care at the Family Center, which cares for the majority of pregnant opioid-addicted women in the Philadelphia area, Dr. Kraft says. The program is directed by co-author Karol Kaltenbach, Ph.D., who is a internationally known expert in the treatment of pregnant women with addiction.

In 2008, the research team published results from their first cohort using buprenorphine in infants. In this study, they enrolled 24 infants, half randomized to buprenorphine and half to standard of care oral morphine. The investigators found that infants treated with buprenorphine had a 23-day length of treatment, compared to 38 days for those treated with morphine. Length of hospital stay in the buprenorphine group was 32 days versus 42 in infants treated with morphine.

"They say that to truly know if buprenorphine is a better treatment for these infants, it will be necessary to conduct a double-blind randomized study in which physicians do not know which treatment has been administered. We are not using buprenorphine in infants who need treatment until we conduct this final step," Dr. Kraft says. "It is important to do the study in the most rigorous way possible, to prove the benefit of the therapy. We are currently in the planning stages of such a study."


Contact: Rick Cushman
Thomas Jefferson University

Related biology news :

1. MSU scientists find new gene that helps plants beat the heat
2. Extreme nature helps scientists design nano materials
3. Diatom genome helps explain success in trapping excess carbon in oceans
4. Waste from gut bacteria helps host control weight, UT Southwestern researchers report
5. Swamping bad cells with good in ALS animal models helps sustain breathing
6. Boost from McGill, Gates Foundation helps Africans control pharma research
7. Study helps clarify role of soil microbes in global warming
8. New book helps medical students master clinical skills
9. New research helps explain genetics of Parkinsons disease
10. Exercise helps overweight children reduce anger expression
11. Tool helps identify gene function in soybeans
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/19/2015)... , Nov. 19, 2015  Based on its ... & Sullivan recognizes BIO-key with the 2015 Global Frost ... year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the ... catering to the needs of the market it serves. ... line meets and expands on customer base demands, the ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... , November 17, 2015 Paris ...   --> Paris from 17 th ... DERMALOG, the biometrics innovation leader, has invented the first combined ... on the same scanning surface. Until now two different scanners ... one scanner can capture both on the same surface. ...
(Date:11/16/2015)... 16, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ... today announced expansion of its TDDI product portfolio ... controller and display driver integration (TDDI) solutions designed ... new TDDI products add to the previously-announced ... (WQHD resolution), and TD4322 (FHD resolution) solutions. All ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software ... events in five states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health ... state are competing for votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 SHPG ) announced today that ... Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> SHPG ... will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare ... Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) today announced that its Annual ... 11:00 a.m. Israel time, at the law offices ... Street, 36 th Floor, Tel Aviv, Israel . ... and Izhak Tamir to the Board of Directors; , ... , approval of an amendment to certain terms of options granted ...
(Date:11/24/2015)...  Twist Bioscience, a company focused on synthetic ... Bioscience chief executive officer, will present at the ... 2015 at 3:10 p.m. Eastern Time at The Lotte New ... --> --> About Twist ... on Twitter. Sign up to follow our Twitter ...
Breaking Biology Technology: