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Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1988 Jan;43(1):72-8.

A clinical trial of buprenorphine: comparison with methadone in the detoxification of heroin addicts.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md.


The efficacy of buprenorphine and methadone was compared in the outpatient detoxification of heroin addicts. Forty-five patients were randomized to receive either sublingual buprenorphine or oral methadone under double-dummy and double-blind conditions to study the pharmacology of buprenorphine in a 90-day detoxification protocol. The patients were administered either 2 mg buprenorphine or 30 mg methadone for 3 weeks followed by 4 weeks of dose reductions and 6 weeks of placebo medication. No significant between-group differences were seen on measures of treatment retention, drug use, or symptom report. During the hydromorphone challenge, methadone attenuated opioid effects to a greater extent than did buprenorphine on both physiologic (pupil constriction) and self-report measures. However, this did not result in greater abuse of illicit opioid drugs by subjects taking buprenorphine. The results of this clinical trial indicated that buprenorphine was acceptable to patients and as effective as methadone in the detoxification treatment of heroin addicts.

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