Opioid substitution treatment (OST) for opioid dependence may be limited by adverse events (AEs). Increasing the range of therapeutic options optimizes outcomes and facilitates patient management. An international, multi-center, two-phase study investigated the efficacy and safety of slow-release oral morphine (SROM) versus methadone in patients receiving methadone therapy for opioid dependence. In phase 1 (two way cross-over, 11 weeks each period) patients were randomized to SROM or methadone oral solution. In phase 2 (25 weeks), patients continued treatment with SROM (group A) or switched from methadone to SROM (group B). In total, 211 out of 276 completed phase 1 and 198 entered phase 2 (n=95 group A, n=103 group B). Treatment with both SROM and methadone was well tolerated. However, the mean QTc-interval associated with methadone was significantly longer than that under SROM. Higher treatment satisfaction, fewer cravings for heroin, and lower mental stress were reported with SROM. This study adds a significant further weight of evidence that SROM is an effective and well tolerated long-term maintenance treatment for opioid dependence with a beneficial risk profile compared to methadone regarding cardiac effects and supports its clinical utility.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01079117.
Keywords: Opioid dependence; Opioid substitution treatment; QTc-interval; Safety; Slow-release oral morphine.
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