FDA OKs Heroin, Morphine Relapse Prevention Drug
Amy Winehouse might have a fighting chance thanks to a new drug called Vivitrol. U.S. government agency Food and Drug Administration approved Vivitrol to treat and prevent relapse after patients with opioid addictions complete detox.
The new drug is an extended-release formula based on naltrexone that is administered through an intramuscular injection monthly. Naltrexone functions by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, thereby blocking the effects of drugs such as morphine and heroin. In 2006, it was approved for use with alcoholics.
A study tested the safety of the drug for six months and 36% of the patients treated with the drug committed to their treatment for the six months, sans drugs, compared with 23% in the placebo group.
Those using Vivitrol must not have any opioids in their system. Those taking the drug are also cautioned about missing a dose or using after the treatment with Vivitrol concludes, as it can be easier to overdose if they start abusing drugs again.
Side effects of the drug include: nausea, tiredness, headache, dizziness, vomiting, decreased appetite, painful joints, and muscle cramps. Serious side effects include reactions at the injection site, liver damage, allergic reactions including hives, rashes, swelling of the face, and pneumonia, depression, suicide, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal behavior.
Vivitrol is made by Alkermes.