The purpose of this weblog is to inform the interested visitor on ongoing clinical research on the medicinal drug naltrexone, with particular focus on Norwegian research.

Breaking this month: Norwegian RCT finds extended-release naltrexone is equivalent to daily buprenorphine-naloxone in short-term treatment of opioid addiction

In an article recently published online in JAMA Psychiatry intramuscular injections of the opioid-blocking substance, naltrexone, was found to be equivalent to or better than daily maintenance of physical dependence using buprenorphine-naloxone

Nikolaj Kunøe, PhD and postdoctoral Fellow at the Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research at the University of Oslo, was the National Coordinator and the only senior researcher employed full-time in the trial:

‘While results continue to be promising for sustained release naltrexone, the difficulties of implementing a placebo design without increasing overdose risk means the influence of a placebo effect cannot be ruled out. The volunteers for this study were also likely to take special interest in extended-release naltrexone, as this treatment form is not available today in Europe or the EEC – including Norway.

On the other hand, the results provide little support for the view that opioid users can only be assisted by maintaining their dependence on opioids. The findings should be relevant to users in clinical settings with access to opioid maintenance treatment with buprenorphine or methadone.

‘We hope to continue contributing to the knowledge base on sustained-release naltrexone for many years to come; The near term should see further publications from our group on topics of high clinical interest such as longer-term results, and analyses on special subgroups and – topics of interest. We are proud to have achieved this publication milestone.’

Since 1999, researchers at the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health have collaborated on clinical research on naltrexone. Established at a time when most others had lost interest in naltrexone, the Norwegian naltrexone research group was among the first to study the clinical feasibility and effectiveness of long-acting naltrexone in the treatment of heroin addiction.

Today, long-acting naltrexone is FDA-approved for prescription as part of the treatment of both alcohol- and opioid addiction in the US. The Norwegian naltrexone research group continues to conduct front-line clinical research. The main academic centre is the Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research (SERAF) at the University of Oslo.

This website is targeting a Norwegian-speaking audience, but we will nonetheless update this part of the site sporadically for English-speaking visitors. For more information on published naltrexone research, we would recommend the English-language summaries of SERAF papers published on the SERAF website. Further inquiries to the naltrexone group can be made by sending an e-mail to nikolaj.kunoe@medisin.uio.no

August 2012:

We were happy to learn that a summary of our previous naltrexone research made the Top 10 of the most downloaded papers on Drug & Alcohol Findings a research-oriented information site for addiction professionals. See the Findings paper here.