Opiate addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder. Left untreated, high morbidity and mortality rates are seen. Pharmacotherapies for this disorder using mu opiate agonists (methadone and levomethadyl acetate) and partial agonists have been developed in the last 40 years. Agonist pharmacotherapy with oral methadone for the treatment of opiate dependence was developed in clinical pharmacology studies at Rockefeller University by Dole, Nyswander, and Kreek. Further studies by this laboratory and others established that moderate to high dose treatment with methadone (80-120 mg) reduced or eliminated opiate use in outpatient settings with consequent reductions in morbidity and up to 4-fold reductions in mortality. Levomethadyl acetate (LAAM), a congener of methadone, is biotransformed to active metabolites responsible for its longer duration of action. The Federal Regulations regarding the dispensation of methadone and LAAM have recently been revised to facilitate the treatment of patients under a "medical maintenance" model. Future regulatory reform will likely involve the establishment of rules for "office based opioid treatment."
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Inc.