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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1993 Jun;181(6):358-64.

Buprenorphine versus methadone maintenance for opioid dependence.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06519.

Abstract

Buprenorphine at 2 mg and 6 mg daily was compared with methadone at 35 mg and 65 mg during 24 weeks of maintenance among 125 opioid-dependent patients. As hypothesized, 6 mg of buprenorphine were superior to 2 mg of buprenorphine in reducing illicit opioid use, but higher dosage did not improve treatment retention. Self-reported illicit opioid use declined substantially in all groups, but by the third month, significantly more heroin abuse was reported at 2 mg than at 6 mg of buprenorphine or of methadone. From an initial average of $1860/month, month 3 usage dropped to $41 (methadone 65 mg), $73 (methadone 35 mg), $118 (buprenorphine 6 mg), and $351/month (buprenorphine 2 mg). Days of use also dropped from 29 days to 1.7 (methadone 65 mg), 2.8 (methadone 35 mg), 4.0 (buprenorphine 6 mg), and 6.6 days/month (buprenorphine 2 mg). This relatively low efficacy for 2 mg of buprenorphine persisted through month 6 of the trial, with 7.2 days/month and $235/month of use for buprenorphine at 2 mg versus 1.9 days/month and $65/month for the other three groups. Increased opioid abuse also was associated with significantly greater and persistent opioid withdrawal symptoms. Our secondary hypothesis, that buprenorphine would be equivalent to methadone in efficacy, was not supported. Treatment retention was significantly better on methadone (20 vs. 16 weeks), and methadone patients had significantly more opioid-free urines (51% vs. 26%). Abstinence for at least 3 weeks was also more common on methadone than buprenorphine (65% vs. 27%).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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