The few currently available pharmacological treatments for opioid addiction fall into one of two categories: substitution therapies or abstinent therapies. Substitution therapies (i.e., methadone, buprenorphine, and buprenorphine/naloxone combination) prevent a patient from experiencing withdrawal symptoms but allow the patient to still experience a limited “high” without taking any illicit opioids. Abstinent therapies (i.e., naltrexone) block the euphoric effect of opioids if a patient attempts to take an illicit opioid while on abstinent therapy. In most markets, regardless of which type of opioid addiction treatment received, relapse rates among opioid addicts remain high. Thus, commercial opportunity exists for new opioid addiction treatments, particularly those that can more effectively reduce the craving and opioid use and do not have an abuse potential.
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