Opioid addiction : buprenorphine and naltrexone are equivalent

Health 6 December, 2017


Published the 06.12.2017 at 17: 40 pm


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The current epidemic of addiction to opioid drugs destroys lives, families and communities. The medicines are clearly considered the most effective treatment for weaning. In France, the withdrawal will be based in large part on the buprenorphine, but the naltrexone could also do well.

Two contradictory approaches

The 2 drugs, buprenorphine and naltrexone, representative of the approaches pharmacologically and conceptually opposed to treat addiction to opioids.

But until now, patients, families and providers had no data to guide their choice of treatment. Findings from two new studies, one american and one Swedish, compare the two drugs by presenting their specificity.

An apparent similarity

Buprenorphine is an opioid agonist partial. It partially activates the opioid receptors involved in pain relief and reward, but can block some of the effects of other opioids. Buprenorphine can give a withdrawal syndrome when you stop the car and it can be misused by the drug addicts, where a strict control of requirements and issues.
In contrast, naltrexone is an antagonist full of opioids, which has no stimulant effects, but it allows you to block effects of other opioids such as heroin. Naltrexone can only be started once the patient has completely stopped the heroin, which could cause an acute withdrawal syndrome.

Equivalent results

The results indicate that once started, buprenorphine (taken daily) and naltrexone (monthly injection) are just as effective as the other, to prevent recidivism, maintain the patients in treatment and reduce illicit use of opioids.

In addition to the reactions at the injection site mild to moderate associated with naltrexone adverse events, including overdoses, fatal and non-fatal outcomes are similar.