Two-Drug Combo Against Cocaine

Cocaine addiction may have a pharmaceutical treatment aid in the future

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) As of right now, there are no drugs on the market to help with cocaine addiction. By combining two drugs already on the market, scientists may have found the solution.

A recent preclinical trial found that rats with unlimited access to cocaine kicked the habit when given a combination of two addiction treatment drugs. Results may pave the way for human trials.

"Get help immediately if you are addicted to cocaine."

George Koob, PhD, chair of the Scripps Research Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, led an experiment to see if a two-drug combination would work against cocaine addiction.

While this study was performed on rats and has not been tested on humans, both drugs used are already on the market for human use.

Buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid used to treat opioid addiction. Naltrexone is used for treating alcohol, tobacco and drug dependence.

The experiment was successful on the rats that had access to cocaine. Those given the two-drug combination did not continue to self-administer cocaine.

Using buprenorphine alone can be addictive and result in trading one drug for the other.

By adding naltrexone, the rats in the study did not show the same withdrawal symptoms they did when they were on buprenorphine by itself.

Senior research associate for the study, Leandro F. Vendruscolo, said, “These findings potentially represent a huge bridge from basic research to the establishment of a new and effective medication for cocaine addiction.”

Further research will be necessary to determine if these results can be repeated in safely in humans.

This study was published in the August issue of Science Translational Medicine. Funding for the research was provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institutes of Health, and the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research, no conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
August 12, 2012
Last Updated:
December 10, 2012