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Painkiller abuse treated by sustained buprenorphine/naloxone
Date:11/8/2011

People addicted to prescription painkillers reduce their opioid abuse when given sustained treatment with the medication buprenorphine plus naloxone (Suboxone), according to research published in yesterday's Archives of General Psychiatry and conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study, which was the first randomized large scale clinical trial using a medication for the treatment of prescription opioid abuse, also showed that the addition of intensive opioid dependence counseling provided no added benefit.

"The study suggests that patients addicted to prescription opioid painkillers can be effectively treated in primary care settings using Suboxone," said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. "However, once the medication was discontinued, patients had a high rate of relapse -- so, more research is needed to determine how to sustain recovery among patients addicted to opioid medications."

Pain medications are beneficial when used as prescribed, but they have significant abuse liability, especially when taken for non-medical reasons. This study examined whether the FDA-approved medication Suboxone could help combat this growing problem. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine to reduce opioid craving plus naloxone, which causes withdrawal symptoms in someone addicted to opioids if Suboxone were taken by a route other than orally, as prescribed. This combination was specifically designed to prevent abuse and diversion of buprenorphine and was one of the first to be eligible for prescribing under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act, which permits specially trained physicians to prescribe certain FDA approved medications for the treatment of opioid addiction.

Most studies examining treatments for opioid dependence have been done with heroin-addicted patients at methadone clinics, so there have been little data on treatment for patients addicted to prescription painkil
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Contact: NIDA Press Office
media@nida.nih.gov
301-443-6245
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse
Source:Eurekalert

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