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What is VIVITROL?
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VIVITROL® is Naltrexone

Naltrexone is a non-addictive antagonist used in the treatment of opioid and alcohol dependence. As an antagonist, naltrexone does not mimic the effects of opioids. It simply blocks opioid receptor sites so that other substances present in a patient's system cannot bind to them. Naltrexone administered in an injectable long-acting formulation is marketed under the brand name of VIVITROL® which is designed for once-monthly dosing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this medication for use in individuals with opioid or alcohol use disorders to prevent relapse.

Naltrexone for alcohol dependence

As a non-addictive antagonist naltrexone is used to block opioid receptors so they cannot be activated. In people with alcohol dependence, it is believed that this blockade (opioid antagonism) diminishes craving for alcohol and leads to a greater ability to resist urges to drink excessively. Naltrexone is available in two forms: oral daily form (ReVia®, Depade®) and injectable monthly extended-release form (VIVITROL®). The later was approved by FDA for treatment of alcohol dependence in 2006.

Although the mechanism responsible for the reduction in alcohol consumption observed with treatment is not entirely understood, preclinical data suggests that occupation of the opioid receptors results in the blockade of the neurotransmitters in the brain that are believed to be involved with alcohol dependence. This blockade may result in the reduction in alcohol consumption observed in patients treated with naltrexone. (Naltrexone for Extended-Release Injectable Suspension for Treatment of Alcohol Dependence. TIP 49, Chapter 4 (Oral Naltrexone), Chapter 5 (IM), SAMHSA.)

Naltrexone for opioid dependence

Naltrexone is a non-opioid medication that is approved for the treatment of opioid dependence. As an opioid receptor antagonist, naltrexone binds to opioid receptors, but instead of activating the receptors, it effectively blocks them. Through this action, it prevents opioid receptors from being activated by agonist compounds, such as heroin or prescription pain killers, and is reported to reduce craving and prevent relapse. As opposed to other medications used for opioid dependence (methadone and buprenorphine), naltrexone can be prescribed by any individual who is licensed to prescribe medicine (e.g., physician, doctor of osteopathic medicine, physician assistant, and nurse practitioner). Both the oral daily form and the monthly injectable monthly extended-release form (VIVITROL®) are FDA approved for treatment of opioid dependence. VIVITROL® was approved by FDA for this indication in 2010.

VIVITROL is the only extended-release medication approved by the FDA for this purpose. It is used by the Department of Veterans Affairs and is being utilized by numerous justice agencies across the country including the Departments of Corrections in California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, and Pennsylvania and numerous jail systems including Los Angeles County and New York City at Riker's Island.