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Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2007 Mar;6(2):125-32.

Naloxone treatment in opioid addiction: the risks and benefits.

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Leiden University Medical Center, Department of Anesthesiology, RC Leiden, The Netherlands.


Naloxone is a non-selective, short-acting opioid receptor antagonist that has a long clinical history of successful use and is presently considered a safe drug over a wide dose range (up to 10 mg). In opioid-dependent patients, naloxone is used in the treatment of opioid-overdose-induced respiratory depression, in (ultra)rapid detoxification and in combination with buprenorphine for maintenance therapy (to prevent intravenous abuse). Risks related to naloxone use in opioid-dependent patients are: i) the induction of an acute withdrawal syndrome (the occurrence of vomiting and aspiration is potentially life threatening); ii) the effect of naloxone may wear off prematurely when used for treatment of opioid-induced respiratory depression; and iii) in patients treated for severe pain with an opioid, high-dose naloxone and/or rapidly infused naloxone may cause catecholamine release and consequently pulmonary edema and cardiac arrhythmias. These risks warrant the cautious use of naloxone and adequate monitoring of the cardiorespiratory status of the patient after naloxone administration where indicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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