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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009 Oct;66(10):1116-23. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.128.

Cocaine vaccine for the treatment of cocaine dependence in methadone-maintained patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled efficacy trial.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.



Cocaine dependence, which affects 2.5 million Americans annually, has no US Food and Drug Administration-approved pharmacotherapy.


To evaluate the immunogenicity, safety, and efficacy of a novel cocaine vaccine to treat cocaine dependence.


A 24-week, phase 2b, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with efficacy assessed during weeks 8 to 20 and follow-up to week 24.


Cocaine- and opioid-dependent persons recruited from October 2003 to April 2005 from greater New Haven, Connecticut.


One hundred fifteen methadone-maintained subjects (67% male, 87% white, aged 18-46 years) were randomized to vaccine or placebo, and 94 subjects (82%) completed the trial. Most smoked crack cocaine along with using marijuana (18%), alcohol (10%), and nonprescription opioids (44%).


Over 12 weeks, 109 of 115 subjects received 5 vaccinations of placebo or succinylnorcocaine linked to recombinant cholera toxin B-subunit protein. Main Outcome Measure Semiquantitative urinary cocaine metabolite levels measured thrice weekly with a positive cutoff of 300 ng/mL.


The 21 vaccinated subjects (38%) who attained serum IgG anticocaine antibody levels of 43 microg/mL or higher (ie, high IgG level) had significantly more cocaine-free urine samples than those with levels less than 43 microg/mL (ie, low IgG level) and the placebo-receiving subjects during weeks 9 to 16 (45% vs 35% cocaine-free urine samples, respectively). The proportion of subjects having a 50% reduction in cocaine use was significantly greater in the subjects with a high IgG level than in subjects with a low IgG level (53% of subjects vs 23% of subjects, respectively) (P = .048). The most common adverse effects were injection site induration and tenderness. There were no treatment-related serious adverse events, withdrawals, or deaths.


Attaining high (>or=43 microg/mL) IgG anticocaine antibody levels was associated with significantly reduced cocaine use, but only 38% of the vaccinated subjects attained these IgG levels and they had only 2 months of adequate cocaine blockade. Thus, we need improved vaccines and boosters. Trial Registration Identifier: NCT00142857.

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