Naltrexone implants have not been subject to the usual rigorous scrutiny required for new devices in Australia, but are widely used through the Special Access Scheme
In this issue of the Journal, Lintzeris and colleagues report eight patients with naltrexone implants who developed serious medical complications considered to be related to the implant (→ Unplanned admissions to two Sydney public hospitals after naltrexone implants).1 Intuitively, naltrexone is an attractive treatment for opioid dependence, as it is inexpensive, long-acting and generally well tolerated, and blocks the actions of heroin when taken orally. However, empirical support for naltrexone has been unimpressive,2-4 with research showing that poor adherence to treatment limits its effectiveness. An Australian study found that, while patients who adhered to treatment did well, only 2% were still taking the drug 3 months after conventional inpatient detoxification.5
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