Emerging drugs for the treatment of cocaine use disorder: a review of neurobiological targets and pharmacotherapy

Expert Opin Emerg Drugs. 2015 Mar;20(1):15-29. doi: 10.1517/14728214.2015.985203. Epub 2014 Nov 26.


Introduction: Cocaine use is a global public health concern of significant magnitude, negatively impacting both the individual as well as larger society. Despite numerous trials, the discovery of an effective medication for treatment of cocaine use disorder remains elusive.

Areas covered: This article reviews the emerging pharmacotherapies for treatment of cocaine use disorder, focusing on those medications that are currently in Phase II or III human clinical trials. Articles reviewed were obtained through searches of PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, Clinicaltrials.gov and the Pharmaprojects database.

Expert opinion: Research into cocaine pharmacotherapy must continue to show innovation. Given that medications targeting single neurotransmitter systems have demonstrated little efficacy in treatment of cocaine use disorder, the recent focus on pharmacotherapeutic agents with multiple neurobiochemical targets represents an exciting shift in trial design and approach. Additionally, consideration of pharmacogenetics may be helpful in identification of subpopulations of cocaine-dependent individuals who may preferentially respond to medications.

Keywords: Phase II; Phase III; clinical trial; cocaine; pharmacogenetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Drug Design*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy*
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Research Design