UCLA Health seeks participants for first-of-its-kind study using injectable buprenorphine to treat methamphetamine use disorder and opioid co-use

An illustration of a syringe

UCLA Health investigators are leading a new, six-city trial of injectable buprenorphine for treatment of methamphetamine use disorder in adults who also use opioids. This is the first study to investigate the drug’s efficacy in treating the two co-addictions simultaneously.

“Drug overdose deaths increasingly involve people who use methamphetamine and opioids at the same time,” said Steven Shoptaw, PhD, principal investigator and director of the Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine at UCLA Health’s Department of Family Medicine, “But the lack of treatment options for these individuals has contributed greatly to the addiction public health crisis we are now experiencing -- more than 107,000 deaths attributed to overdose each year in the United States alone.”  

While buprenorphine has been used to treat opioid use disorder since 2002, there are currently no FDA-approved treatments for methamphetamine use disorder or methamphetamine use disorder together with opioid co-use.

The first-of-its-kind trial, available locally at the UCLA Health Vine Street Clinic, is a 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. UCLA hopes to enroll 61 of the 246 participants to be recruited nationwide over the next two years.

The study is designated for those with moderate to severe methamphetamine use disorder coupled with mild opioid use disorder or opioid misuse. It is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Helping to End Addiction Long Term Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative. 

“There is strong rationale for evaluating buprenorphine as a treatment for methamphetamine and opioid co-use, and we are hopeful that the long-acting formulation of the medication will offer a viable recovery option for people living with this condition," said Shoptaw, who participated in a previous New England Journal of Medicine study  that showed a similar combination of medications the injectable opioid antagonist naltrexone and the oral antidepressant bupropion — was effective in reducing methamphetamine use among adults with moderate to severe methamphetamine use disorder compared to placebo.

To be considered for the study, participants must be seeking treatment for methamphetamine use disorder and opioid co-use, be 18-65 in age, and be able to attend twice-weekly outpatient clinic visits. The trial evaluates patients with twice-weekly urine drug screens as well as self-reported frequency of methamphetamine and opioid co-use.

In addition to the UCLA Vine Street Clinic, participating institutions include: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, CODA, Alameda Health System Highland Hospital, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, and University of Washington Harborview Medical Center.

For more information this UCLA Vine Street Clinic-based study, call (323) 461-3106 or email [email protected].

Research reported in this press release is supported by the Clinical Trials Network at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, under award UG1DA020024. Additional support was provided by the NIH HEAL Initiative. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

The Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, is an aggressive, trans-NIH effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. Launched in April 2018, the initiative is focused on improving prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction, and enhancing pain management. For more information, visit: https://heal.nih.gov

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