Alkermes’ antagonist based treatment gets data boost proving effectiveness compared to agonists.

Although Alkermes’ naltrexone offering VIVITROL® has been approved since 2006, its relevance as a frontline treatment option for treating epidemic levels of opioid dependency is gaining new traction. The results of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded study published in The Lancet recently, point to the relative effectiveness of two compounds, VIVITROL, and buprenorphine-naloxone in treating dependency.

According to Alkermes, VIVITROL attacks opioid dependency from a different direction, as an extended-release opioid receptor antagonist. Buprenorphine-naloxone, on the other hand, is an opioid partial agonist. In a recently published journal article reviewing the NIDA study design, researchers observed, “Agonists and antagonists are diametrically opposite in domains ranging from pharmacology to treatment philosophy. Agonists maintain physical tolerance and opioid dependence; antagonists block any opioid effects and are not psychoactive or habit-forming.”

Craig Hopkinson, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs at Alkermes commented on this, noting: “VIVITROL is an entirely different approach from maintenance therapies. VIVITROL works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain and is the only FDA-approved medication for preventing relapse to opioid dependence, following opioid detoxification.”

Richard Pops, Chief Executive Officer of Alkermes, added: “Addiction is a highly complex disease, and no single treatment option is right for all patients. In order to address this epidemic, the treatment system for opioid addiction must evolve to embrace data-driven, patient-centered care customized to the clinical needs of each individual.”