FDA clears addiction drug to treat narcotic abuse

AP News
Posted: Oct 12, 2010 9:01 PM
FDA clears addiction drug to treat narcotic abuse

Drugmaker Alkermes Inc. said Tuesday it has received U.S. approval to market its addiction medication for use in patients addicted to narcotics like heroin and morphine.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the company's drug Vivitrol as a monthly injection to treat addiction to opioids, highly addictive drugs often abused for their euphoric effects. Vivitrol is already approved for alcoholism.

Shares drugmaker, which is based in Waltham, Mass., jumped 37 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $16.05 in aftermarket trading. The stock had slipped 20 cents to $15.68 during the regular session.

Vivitrol is designed to block brain receptors that deliver the pleasurable sensations associated with alcohol and drug abuse.

The drug was originally approved by the FDA in 2006 to treat alcohol dependence.

Alkermes asked the FDA earlier this year to approve Vivitrol to help patients quit addictions to opioid drugs.

The FDA approved the drug based on company studies that showed patients taking Vivitrol were more likely to be free of opioids than those taking a dummy injection. The typical Vivitrol patient reported opioid-free urine samples 90 percent of the time, compared with 35 percent for those not taking the drug.

"Opioid dependence is a growing disease and we believe that Vivitrol offers physicians and their patients a whole new approach, as the only long-acting, non-addictive treatment for opioid dependence," Alkermes CEO Richard Pops said.