Transdermal selegiline and intravenous cocaine: safety and interactions

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004 Feb;172(1):31-40. doi: 10.1007/s00213-003-1616-6. Epub 2003 Nov 6.


Rationale: Because the dopamine system appears to be involved in both acute and chronic effects of cocaine, medication development efforts for cocaine addiction have focused largely on agents that interact with the dopamine system. Selegiline, a selective monoamine oxidase B inhibitor, indirectly modulates dopamine levels, and research suggests selegiline may modify subjective effects of cocaine.

Objectives: To evaluate further the safety and potential of transdermal selegiline as a treatment for cocaine dependence, interactions between transdermal selegiline and intravenous cocaine were studied in cocaine-dependent volunteers.

Methods: Pharmacokinetics and subjective, physiological, and endocrinological effects of intravenous cocaine (0,20 and 40 mg) were evaluated both before and during transdermal selegiline treatment (20 mg/day, 10 days) in 12 cocaine-dependent subjects. A transdermal selegiline formulation was used to avoid the risks associated with oral administration of MAO inhibitors.

Results: Selegiline attenuated some physiological (systolic blood pressure and heart rate) and subjective (good effects, liking, stimulated, high, desire for cocaine) effects of cocaine. Selegiline did not affect cocaine's pharmacokinetics or cocaine-induced prolactin decrease and growth hormone increase.

Conclusions: The combined administration of the transdermal selegiline patch and up to 40 mg cocaine was well tolerated. Selegiline may reduce physiological and subjective effects of cocaine. A randomized trial is needed to evaluate the efficacy of selegiline for cocaine abuse.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Cocaine / metabolism
  • Cocaine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cocaine / pharmacology*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / drug therapy
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / metabolism
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Drug Interactions
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monoamine Oxidase / metabolism
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Selegiline / adverse effects
  • Selegiline / pharmacology*
  • Selegiline / therapeutic use
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Selegiline
  • Prolactin
  • Growth Hormone
  • Monoamine Oxidase
  • Cocaine