Extended-release naltrexone for methamphetamine dependence among men who have sex with men: a randomized placebo-controlled trial

Addiction. 2018 Feb;113(2):268-278. doi: 10.1111/add.13950. Epub 2017 Aug 29.


Background and aims: Methamphetamine use is increasingly prevalent and associated with HIV transmission. Early-phase human studies suggested naltrexone reduced amphetamine use among dependent individuals. We tested if extended-release naltrexone (XRNTX) reduces methamphetamine use and associated sexual risk behaviors among high-risk methamphetamine-dependent men who have sex with men (MSM).

Design: Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of XRTNX versus placebo over 12 weeks from 2012 to 2015.

Setting: San Francisco Department of Public Health, California, USA.

Participants: One hundred community-recruited, sexually-active, actively-using methamphetamine-dependent MSM. Mean age was 43.2 years; 96% were male, 3% transfemale, and 1% transmale; 55.0% were white, 19.0% African American, and 18.0% Latino.

Interventions: XRNTX 380 mg (n = 50) or matched placebo (n = 50) administered by gluteal injection at 4-week intervals.

Measurements: Regression estimated average level and change in level of positive urines during the period 2-12 weeks (primary outcomes) and sexual risk behaviors (secondary outcome).

Findings: Ninety per cent of visits were completed. By intent-to-treat, participants assigned to XRNTX had similar differences during 2-12 weeks in methamphetamine-positive urines as participants assigned to placebo [incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.76-1.20; Bayes factor < 0.3]. Observed urine positivity declined from 78 to 70% in the XRNTX arm and 74 to 64% in the placebo arm. Adherence to injections was 96.7% in the XRNTX arm and 91.3% in the placebo arm. Sexual risk behaviors declined similarly among participants in both arms (all P > 0.05). There were no serious adverse events related to study drug and no differences in frequency of adverse events by treatment arm.

Conclusions: Notwithstanding very high medication adherence for this study, extended-release naltrexone does not appear to reduce methamphetamine use or sexual risk behaviors among methamphetamine-dependent men who have sex with men compared with placebo.

Keywords: HIV; men who have sex with men; methamphetamine; naltrexone; pharmacotherapy; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine
  • Naltrexone / administration & dosage
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • San Francisco
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Methamphetamine
  • Naltrexone