Materia Medica Malaysiana

July 5, 2008

Implants to overcome drug habit

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 1:01 pm

Star: PETALING JAYA: Apart from methadone, heroin addicts now have an alternative treatment that is more user-friendly, minus the addiction.
According to University of Western Australia’s Professor Gary Hulse, who specialises in Addiction Medicine, over 4,000 heroin addicts have been successfully treated with the Sustained Release Naltrexone Implant (Naltrexone) worldwide.
He explained that once an addict has a Naltrexone implant, which lasts for about six months, there would be no craving for heroin during that period.
“This is because the drug works by blocking the opiate receptors in the brain. So an addict won’t get a high, even if he chooses to still take heroin,” he told the press here yesterday.
A chief executive officer of a hospital Datuk Dr S. Guna said that the Health Ministry’s Medical Research and Ethics Committee had given the green light for the hospital to run Naltrexone Implant clinical trials here.
“It should commence in October/November this year or even earlier.
“However, there are financial constraints as it will cost up to RM3mil to run clinical trials for 200 people,” he said.
Should it reach the commercial market, Dr Guna said it could cost about RM12,000 per implant, but added it was “not much more than the methadone treatment for a period of six months”.
Prof Hulse explained that the implant consists of 10 small tablets, which would break up once inside the patient’s body.
In a 20-minute process, the implant is inserted into the patient’s abdominal region through a 2cm incision using a syringe.
The United Kingdom’s Naltrexone Treatment Centre’s website ( said the the incision can be closed with four sutures.
“Naltrexone is not a new drug, but it’s effective and safe. It’s not a drug you can get addicted to,” he said, adding that clinical trials in Australia had delivered very encouraging results.

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