Naltrexone Implant Prevents Relapse of Opioid Dependence in HIV Patients

Patients that are battling with both HIV and opioid dependence can do without treatment of addiction as they are more likely to leave drugs than drug-free patients.  Where the regular oral form of naltrexone is a way of treating opioid dependence, the drug users don’t often take the medications seriously. A new study by Penn Medicine researchers has shown that naltrexone implant when placed beneath the skin gradually lets go of the drug in three months period and is found more helpful with HIV-positive patients that have an opioid addiction to reduce relapse.

“The findings have implications for treatment of opioid dependence among patients that do not want agonist maintenance or who live in places where options are more limited,” said Professor George E. Woody who is the senior author of the study. “Further development and formal approval of these implants in a wider range of cultural settings has the potential to provide an effective and meaningful HIV and opioid treatment option for these patients.”

Results of this study proved that the implant was linked with greater HIV infected patients that maintain their ART regimen and lower viral loads in comparison with the oral drug. By the end of the research, 46 people in the group were still on ART whereas 32 were in the oral drug group. Furthermore, 66 people from the group had viral loads that were lesser than four hundred copies/mL as compared to the fifty present in the oral group. Rest of the patients either relapsed or dropped out, and seven of them died due to various reasons such as cancer, overdose, heart disease, and etc.

“While we only looked at an opioid addicted HIV population in Russia, these results suggest that naltrexone implants could be helpful to patients in the U.S. and elsewhere that do not want agonist maintenance treatment or who live in settings where these treatments are difficult to access or unavailable,” Woody said. “However, that will largely depend on the results of commercial development and approval of these implants.”