Last updated on November 2019

Improving Treatment Outcomes for Prescription Opioid Dependence

Brief description of study

Overall, this proposal seeks to improve treatment strategies for the significant public health problem of prescription opioid dependence by determining whether gabapentin, a non-narcotic pharmaceutical agent with minimal abuse potential and preliminary efficacy, will be effective in ameliorating withdrawal symptoms, craving and illicit drug use in prescription opioid dependent participants undergoing a 10-day detoxification from buprenorphine. In addition, the acceptability and feasibility of transitioning to depot naltrexone therapy will also be determined. If successful, this study would provide data to support further development of gabapentin as a pharmacological tool for improved outcomes during opioid detoxification as well as an integrated outpatient approach for treating prescription opioid dependence.

Detailed Study Description

Opioid dependence is a serious public health problem, particularly with the dramatic rise in prescription opioid abuse, but long-term opioid agonist maintenance with methadone or buprenorphine (BUP) may not be optimal for many prescription opioid abusers. Yet current opioid detoxification strategies are limited by high relapse rates and/or lack of efficacy in relieving subjective symptoms. In addition, antagonist maintenance with naltrexone (NTX), which may be an optimal longer-term strategy for this population, requires prior opioid detoxification and has been associated with relatively poor outcomes in heroin abusers. This application takes a novel, broad approach to address the problem of prescription opioid dependence by determining the 1) utility of adjunct gabapentin (GBP) during outpatient BUP detoxification to improve initial outcomes and 2) feasibility of transitioning prescription opioid -dependent patients to depot NTX following detoxification, which may improve longer-term outcomes. GBP, an N-type calcium channel blocker with low abuse potential, potentiates opioid analgesia, decreases both postoperative morphine consumption and movement-related pain, and reverses tolerance to the antinociceptive effects of morphine. GBP is also well tolerated and effective in reducing craving and illicit opioid use in pilot detoxification trials. The efficacy and tolerability of adjunct GBP during BUP-assisted detoxification and the feasibility of subsequent transition to depot NTX therapy in prescription opioid -dependent participants will be assessed. This 12-week, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial will determine the potential utility of adjunct GBP in 150 prescription opioid -dependent individuals undergoing outpatient BUP detoxification and whether transition to short-term depot NTX therapy is feasible. Our three specific aims are to determine (1) the efficacy and tolerability of GBP to reduce craving and illicit use of opioids in prescription opioid-dependent individuals undergoing outpatient BUP detoxification; (2) acceptability and feasibility of transition to, and short-term maintenance on, depot NTX following detoxification; and (3) prognosticators of completion of the BUP taper, successful induction onto depot NTX, symptomatology, and longer-term outcomes. Currently, the only FDA-approved medications for the treatment of opioid withdrawal are the opioid agonists methadone and BUP, both of which have abuse liability, and NTX, which can produce low levels of withdrawal-like symptoms, especially early in treatment. Findings, if positive, will support further development of GBP as an adjunct medication as well as provide an integrated, seamless approach to outpatient prescription opioid-dependence treatment. Ultimately, this work could impact the addiction field by providing both procedural and pharmacological tools for treating prescription opioid dependence that significantly improve outpatient detoxification outcomes and markedly enhance access and transition to NTX therapy. This would shift clinical practice, establishing an effective adjunct regimen for BUP detoxification and an integrated approach for transition to NTX therapy. GBP may also be clinically useful for other situations where opioid withdrawal is a concern.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02543944

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