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New Heroin Addiction Treatments Work as Well as Methadone

November 02, 2000

The first head-to-head comparison of treatments for heroin addiction found that two newer, easier-to-take medicines work just as well as methadone, the standard drug since the 1960s. Unlike methadone, which has to be taken daily, the two other drugs are longer-acting and can be taken only three times a week.

Previous studies have shown all three medications--methadone, Orlaam and buprenorphine--to be effective in treating heroin addiction. Orlaam was approved in 1993, but is not widely used. Buprenorphine is awaiting approval. A team from Johns Hopkins University studied 220 heroin addicts for 17 weeks and reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine that all were roughly equally effective.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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