Blood naltrexone and 6-ß-naltrexol levels following naltrexone implant: comparing two naltrexone implants


A/lProfessor G. K. Hulse, School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia. Fax: +61 8 9346 3826; E-mail:


The aim of this study was to profile and compare blood naltrexone and 6- β- naltrexol levels with time following treatment with two sustained-release naltrexone preparations produced by GoMedical Industries, Australia at a community heroin treatment clinic in Perth, Western Australia. A sample of 10 patients who each received a 1.7 g naltrexone implant were compared to 24 patients who each received a 3.4 g naltrexone implant as treatment for heroin dependence. Blood naltrexone levels following treatment with the 1.7 g naltrexone implant remained above 2 and 1 ng/ml for approximately 90 and 136 days, respectively. Use of the 3.4 g naltrexone implant extended the period of coverage to approximately 297 (1 ng/ml) or 188 (2 ng/ml) days. Blood 6- β -naltrexol levels remained above 10 ng/ml for approximately 18 and 83 days, respectively, following use of the 1.7 g and 3.4 g naltrexone implants. The current study data indicate that blood naltrexone and 6 -β- naltrexol levels following treatment with either the 1.7 g or 3.4 g naltrexone implant are greater than those reported in other published data on other sustained-release naltrexone preparations. Furthermore, duration of blood naltrexone and 6 -β- naltrexol levels achieved following use of the 3.4 g implant were superior to those achieved with the 1.7 g naltrexone implant, with naltrexone blood levels maintained above 2 ng/ml for a period of approximately 6.3 months compared to 3 months, respectively. The implications of this in managing the heroin-dependent patient, especially those who find it difficult to shift away from dependent use patterns, are discussed.