New Formulations, Combinations May Improve Buprenorphine Efficacy

Jag Khalsa, PhD, MS

Jag Khalsa, PhD, MS

Buprenorphine holds great promise in the treatment of opioid addiction, but its use and outcomes have lagged. However, new research and new formulations may make it more accessible—and effective. A symposium presented twice today will explore those advances.

Symposium 1, “Buprenorphine: New Formulations, Medication Combinations, Indications, and Longitudinal Effects,” will look at an implantable delivery system that could improve adherence, and new combinations for its use. The symposium will be presented from 10:30 am to 12:30 p.m. and from 2:30 to 4:30 pm in Continental A on the lobby level of the Hilton Chicago.

“There are new formulations of buprenorphine, especially ones that can be implanted under the skin for a slow release of the medication so the patient does not have to get treatment more frequently,” said the symposium organizer, Jag Khalsa, PhD, MS, Chief of the Medical Consequences Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The new delivery is expected to improve adherence and outcomes, which will be discussed in the session. Also discussed will be new drug combinations that hold promise. A combination of buprenorphine and ALKS 33, an opiate antagonist, is being tested to treat cocaine dependence and depression.

Presenters in the symposium also will discuss buprenorphine when reviewing the results of the NIDA Prescription Opioid Addiction Treatment study (POATS); its role in psychiatric comorbidity; its effects on the liver and other findings from the Starting Treatment with Agonist Replacement Therapies (START) trial; and the design and methodology considerations of the Cocaine Use Reduction with Buprenorphine (CURB) study.

“We will discuss the liver complications of buprenorphine because it is important that we know not only the positive effects of the medication but also the potential adverse effects of the medication,” Dr. Khalsa said.

Geetha Subramanian, MD, of NIDA, and Gavin Bart, MD, of the University of Minnesota, organized the session with Dr. Khalsa, and they both will be speakers. Other speakers will be: Roger Weiss, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital; Andrew Saxon, MD, Professor and Director of the Addiction Psychiatry Residency Program at the University of Washington; Ryan Turncliff, PhD, Alkermes; Fredrik Tiberg, PhD, Camurus; Katherine L. Beebe, PhD, Titan Pharmaceuticals; Elliot Ehrich, MD, Alkermes; and Walter Ling, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at the University of California, Los Angeles.