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Vivitrol Approved as an Opioid Addiction Treatment
by admin on: June 27th, 2011

Vivitrol is a brand name pharmaceutical drug that is also known as extended-release naltrexone. This drug is prepared as a suspension that is intended to be administered once a month via an intramuscular injection. In 2006, this drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for alcohol dependence. In October of 2010, Vivitrol was approved by the FDA for treatment of opioid dependence; opioid drugs include well known narcotics such as heroin and morphine.

As noted by the director of the FDA???s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (Dr. Janet Woodcock), addiction to drugs is a serious problem in the U.S. and the effects of drug abuse on families and society can be devastating. Dr. Woodcock also stated that the approval of Vivitrol represents a significant advancement in therapy for those addicted to opioid drugs.

Prior to approval, Vivitrol was studied for a six-month period. This study indicated that patients administered Vivitrol were more likely to refrain from using illicit drugs, as well as being more likely to remain in treatment. The reported adverse effects patients experienced while receiving Vivitrol therapy included:

  • decreased appetite
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • muscle cramping
  • nausea
  • painful joints
  • tiredness
  • vomiting

Of note, patients that would benefit from Vivitrol must be free of all opioid drugs prior to administering this treatment. The reason being, if a patient takes Vivitrol and has an opioid drug in their system, the patient will begin to manifest withdrawal symptoms which can be quite painful.

In addition, previous research has demonstrated that patients may be more sensitive to the effects of opioids while undergoing Vivitrol therapy. This is especially important in patients that may be susceptible to relapse. A patient that misses a Vivitrol injection or ends a period of Vivitrol therapy may accidentally overdose if they begin abusing opioids again.

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