Achieving long-term continuous blood naltrexone and 6-ß-naltrexol coverage following sequential naltrexone implants


A/Professor 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 assess blood free naltrexone and 6-β-naltrexol levels with time following treatment with sequential sustained-release naltrexone preparations. Data were collected from blood samples analysed independently for naltrexone and 6-β-naltrexol and from clinical record review at a community heroin treatment clinic in Perth, Western Australia. Five patients received sequential 3.4 g (3.49 ? 0.01 g and 3.36 ? 0.05 g, respectively) naltrexone implants. The second implant was received on average within 131.2 ? 15.67 days of the first implant. The mean length of follow-up was 307.2 ? 18.28 days of the first implant. Blood naltrexone levels have the potential to remain above 2 and 1 ng/ml for a total of 390 and 524 days, respectively, and blood 6-β-naltrexol was maintained above 10 ng/ml for a total of 222 days following insertion of these implants. No patient relapsed to dependent heroin use during the implant coverage period while blood naltrexone concentrations were above 2 ng/ml. Results indicate that blood naltrexone and 6-β-naltrexol levels can be maintained above therapeutic levels for prolonged periods following use of sequential 3.4 g naltrexone implants. These extended periods of coverage will offer significant benefits for managing the heroin-dependent patient.