A weekly injectable depot formulation of buprenorphine may be effective in treating opioid use disorder, according to a small, industry-funded, phase II trial published in JAMA Psychiatry. Currently, sublingual buprenorphine can be diverted and misused.
Fifty patients with opioid use disorder who weren’t seeking treatment were randomized to receive two 24- or 32-mg doses of injectable buprenorphine, given a week apart. To test buprenorphine’s effects, patients underwent regular hydromorphone test sessions.
Both doses of buprenorphine were associated with immediate and sustained suppressed responses to hydromorphone. In addition, withdrawal was suppressed after the first injection. Over 80% of participants experienced adverse events during the study, most often constipation, injection-site pain, erythema, and headache.
The authors conclude that their results indicate that these “formulations will be effective in reducing illicit opioid use and relapse, while eliminating the risk for misuse and diversion.”