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Keywords:

  • Alcohol;
  • Naltrexone;
  • Treatment;
  • Opioid;
  • Humans

Background: Oral naltrexone is currently used as part of a treatment regimen for alcohol-dependent patients, but its clinical utility is hampered by poor patient adherence. A long-acting injectable naltrexone formulation (Vivitrex®) was designed to facilitate patient adherence by providing an extended duration of therapeutic naltrexone over 1 month, thereby eliminating the need for daily dosing.

Methods: A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study was conducted to evaluate the safety and tolerability of intramuscular repeat dose administration of this extended-release naltrexone formulation in DSM-IV alcohol-dependent patients. Thirty patients were randomized to treatment with injectable naltrexone (400 mg; n= 25) or a matching placebo injection (n= 5) and were dosed once every 28 days over 4 months. Psychosocial treatment was offered to patients in both treatment groups. Outcome measures related to drinking activity and trough plasma concentrations of naltrexone and its primary metabolite, 6-β-naltrexol, were evaluated.

Results: Injectable naltrexone was generally safe and well tolerated. Reported adverse events were mild to moderate and resolved without intervention; only two patients discontinued due to adverse events. The most common adverse events (nausea and headache) occurred at a similar rate for patients in both treatment groups. Pharmacokinetic analysis confirmed that therapeutic levels of naltrexone were delivered throughout the four 1-month treatment cycles.

Conclusions: The results of this pilot study provide the basis and methods for a larger, more definitive trial to determine the utility of this long-acting injectable naltrexone formulation in the treatment of alcohol-dependent patients.