15 April 2006

FDA Approves Injection for Alcoholism

Alkermes and Cephalon said Thursday that they have received approval to market their new alcoholism treatment Vivitrol.

The drug has been touted by the companies as a way to improve patient compliance because it is a once-a-month injectable medication rather than a daily pill. Vivitrol is an extended-release formulation of an existing, now-generic alcoholism treatment pill called naltrexone.

According to an agreement signed last June, Cephalon has primary responsibility for marketing and sales while Alkermes will handle the manufacturing.


Naltrexone (Vivitrol is just the trade name for the injection form) is an opoid antagonist and has been used to treat heroin and opium addiction.

This is a good description of how it works.

According to a study in the JAMA, Vivitrol given in a higher dose resulted in "a 25% decrease in the event rate of heavy drinking days" and when given in a lower dose the decrease was 17%. Patients who started abstaining before treatment ("lead-in abstinence") also did better, and men responded better than women. 14% had to discontinue treatment because of adverse drug reactions.

These aren't numbers that make eyeballs pop out, so don't rush to invest all your money just yet. But alcoholism has such high social and economic costs that even a small double-digit decrease in rates would be significant.

And here's something to consider: less alcoholics mean less godaholics. Given what is happening in this country, THAT may end up being the best boon of all.


Wes said...

Y'know, I wonder if the same people who are opposed to emergency contraception, plan B, RU-486, the HPV vaccine, etc. would be opposed to this, since you're supposed to suffer for your sins.

Oh, who am I kidding. They're fine with this. That other stuff is there to shame WOMEN, dirty sluts that they are.


Michelle Fry said...

Funny dirty, slutty women often get pregnant while intoxicated so maybe this pill could help alcoholics, sluts, and godaholics.

Atun said...

Vivitrol works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. Although the mechanism responsible for the reduction in alcohol consumption observed with Vivitrol treatment is not entirely understood, preclinical data suggests that occupation of the opioid receptors results in the blockade of the neurotransmitters in the brain that are believed to be involved with alcohol dependence. This blockade may result in the reduction in alcohol consumption observed in patients treated with Vivitrol.

Alcoholism Treatment