The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Alkermes’s addiction drug Vivitrol, which is designed to help prevent former opioid addicts from relapsing.
Vivitrol addresses “a major unment medical need”, according to Alkermes chief Richard Pops. The effect of opioids is blocked by Vivitrol, while other treatments such as methadone are opioids themselves and are used to cut dependence and ease symptoms of withdrawal and cravings, Mr Pops said.
Vivitrol has now been cleared to be used as a suppressant for relapse after a patient detoxifies.
Other medicines merely continue a person’s addiction to opioids, albeit in a different form, with the aim of gradually weaning the addict off illegal drugs.
The FDA’s Janet Woodcock said approval of Vivitrol is “a significant advancement in addiction treatment”.
Mr Pops meanwhile said Vivitrol’s once-a-month dosage is an “important safety net”; treatments such as methadone typically involve a daily dose.
Vivitrol does not get users “high” and has no street value, he added.
Copyright Press Association 2010