What To Make Of A Head-To-Head Test Of Addiction Treatments

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NPR on 11/16/2017 by Jake Harper

Addiction specialists caution against reading too much into a new study released this week that compares two popular medications for opioid addiction. This much-anticipated research is the largest study so far to directly compare the widely used treatment Suboxone with relative newcomer Vivitrol.

Researchers who compared the two drugs found them equally effective once treatment started. But there are fundamental differences in the way treatment begins, which makes these findings difficult to interpret.

Vivitrol, an injection of naltrexone that lasts 28 days, has gained a foothold among treatment providers, especially those working with the criminal justice system.

Until recently, no major study had compared it to Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone that is taken by mouth daily.


Now researchers have found the two medications to be equally effective at preventing relapse once patients start treatment, according to a study published Tuesday in The Lancet. A smaller, shorter study out of Norway that was published in October came to a similar conclusion.