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Model Examines Pregnancy’s Effects on Opioid Addiction Treatment

Buprenorphine (BUP) is approved for the treatment of opioid addiction.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 12:01 am EDT

Buprenorphine (BUP) is approved for the treatment of opioid addiction. The current dosing regimen of BUP in pregnant women is based on recommendations designed for non-pregnant adults, but physiological changes during pregnancy may alter BUP exposure and efficacy. As described in a British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology study, researchers have developed a physiologically based pharmacokinetic model that predicts changes in BUP exposure at different stages of pregnancy. The model predicted a decrease in BUP exposure during pregnancy and demonstrated the need for an increase in dose or dosing frequency to maintain efficacy throughout pregnancy. This must be followed by a reduction in dose of buprenorphine after delivery.  

“Modeling can help make predictions when it is difficult to get actual data in a patient population such as pregnant women with opiate addiction. Our predictions in fact agree with our clinical observations in a small number of patients published earlier. Lack of recognition of the impact of pregnancy on how the body handles drugs can cause therapeutic failure and may explain the high withdrawal rate of subjects on methadone / buprenorphine maintenance therapy for opioid addiction,” said senior author Dr. Raman Venkataramanan, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy.

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About Journal

Published on behalf of the British Pharmacological Society, the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology contains papers and reports on all aspects of drug action in humans: review articles, mini review articles, original papers, commentaries, editorials and letters. The Journal enjoys a wide readership, bridging the gap between the medical profession, clinical research and the pharmaceutical industry. It also publishes research on new methods, new drugs and new approaches to treatment.

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