FDA Approves Vivitrol for Opiate Addiction Treatment

FDA Approves Vivitrol for Opiate Addiction Treatment

On October 12th, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration approved Vivitrol, an injectable medication, as a treatment for opiate addiction. Opiates include heroin and narcotic painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin.

Vivitrol is a time-release version of naltrexone, which blocks the brain’s opiate receptors, eliminating the “reward” one normally experiences from taking opiates. Without the reward, cravings for the drug decrease dramatically.

A small study in Russia found that Vivitrol was 50 percent more effective than a placebo in keeping opiate addicts off drugs for five months. Naltrexone has previously been used to treat alcoholism.

The FDA’s approval will make it considerably easier for people to obtain the drug, as currently most insurance companies don’t cover the cost of the $1,000 monthly shot, and treatment can take a year or more. Naltrexone in pill form can be less effective for longer-term treatment, as people can just stop taking the drug.

Doctors note that Vivitrol won’t be successful alone—it needs to be combined with other forms of treatment, including counseling.

Source: CNN, FDA Okays Drug to Fight Opiate Addiction, October 12, 2010

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