Lofexidine Hydrochloride (Lucemyra), the first non-opioid medication to mitigate the symptoms adults experience in opioid withdrawal treatment has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration this year in March 2018.
Lofexidine is not a treatment for opioid use disorder. It is only designed to lessen the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms and is only approved for a treatment that runs for 14 days.
Sharon Hertz, MD, director, division of the anesthesia, analgesia and addiction products, in the FDA’s Center for Drug and Evaluation and Research, said in a statement:
“Today’s approval represents the first FDA-approved non-opioid treatment for the management of opioid withdrawal symptoms and provides a new option that allows providers to work with patients to select the treatment best suited to an individual’s needs”
How Lofexidine Works In Alleviating Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
When trying to fight opioid addiction, patients go through a series of withdrawal symptoms including stomach cramps, muscle spasms/twitching, muscular tension, heart pounding, insomnia, feelings of coldness and runny eyes. It is because of these physical symptoms that many people relapse during the opioid withdrawal treatment.
There is a chemical in our brain called ‘norepinephrine,’ which is responsible for causing many painful opioid withdrawal symptoms. Lofexidine works by inhibiting the release of this norepinephrine in the central and peripheral nervous system, thereby providing relief to the patient going through the withdrawal.
This medication will help you manage the withdrawal symptoms, but it will not stop you from craving the drug. You can work with your doctor or a community drug worker to help you remain opioid-free.
What Are the Dosage Instructions for Lofexidine?
The typical dosage of Lofexidine is three 0.18 mg tablets taken four times daily at 5-6 hours intervals. It is recommended to start taking it when withdrawal symptoms are strongest. The treatment can be continued for up to 14 days as adviced by the doctor.
Side Effects From Opioid Withdrawal Treatment Using Lucemyra:
The most common side effects include low blood pressure, a decrease in pulse, sleepiness, sedation, and dizziness. Patients also experience a marked increase in blood pressure when the treatment is stopped.
Other Medications Used for Treating Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms:
Methadone (Dolophine) is a long-acting opioid drug that affects the same part of your brain as opioids, but it does not get you high. It is mostly prescribed for patients addicted to dangerous opioids like heroin.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone) also works in the same way as methadone but on a lighter note. Therefore, it has less risk of overdosing and is favored against methadone. It is available in different forms such as a tablet, a shot, a skin patch, as a film that can be placed in the mouth or as an implant.
Both of these drugs are opioid drugs that patients can use as substitutes when they are going through a drug withdrawal. The problem, however, is that since they are opioids, they can be addictive themselves.
Naltrexone (Revia) is a part of a broad recovery treatment program. Unlike methadone and buprenorphine, it does not help in easing opioid withdrawal symptoms or cravings, but it will not let you get high if you use drugs while taking it.
You can start taking Naltrexone when you are done with detox, but the problem is that many patients are not able to resist the painful withdrawal symptoms of opioids, therefore they cannot reach to the point where they can start taking this drug.
How is Lofexidine Hydrochloride (Lucemyra) Different?
Lofexidine is a non-opioid drug that can be used to ease the opioid withdrawal symptoms as patients detox. After the detoxification process, patients can be switched to Naltrexone or any other long-term treatment to finally beat the addiction.
Lofexidine hydrochloride is now commercially available for prescription under the brand name of Lucemyra. It is marketed by US WorldMeds, a specialty pharmaceutical company that acquired a license for Lofexidine from Britannia Pharmaceuticals in 2003.
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