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April 2007 Issue

Nabila Babar, MD, Mary Ann Detmer, Eugene Somoza, MD and Frankie Kropp will spearhead the local arm of the first large-scale national treatment study for people addicted to opiate painkillers.
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UC Leading Cincinnati Arm of Study on Prescription-Opiate Addiction

Published April 2007

A growing number of Americans are using prescription opiates for nonmedical purposes.

The 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that more than 2.2 million Americans over the age of 12 were new, nonmedical users of pain relieverssurpassing the number of new marijuana abusers.

The same survey showed that the number of people admitting to being current prescription-opiate abusers (6 million in 2005) was higher than the number abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined. Recognizing this problem, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health launched the first national treatment study for people addicted to opiate painkillers like Vicodin (hydrocodone) and Oxycontin (oxycodone hydrochloride).

Called the Prescription Opiate Addiction Treatment Study (POATS), the trial will treat people who obtain drugs illegally or those getting them by prescription.

Eugene Somoza, MD, PhD, of UC's psychiatry department, is an expert on substance abuse and the principal investigator of the Ohio Valley node of NIDA's Clinical Trials Network, one of 11 participating POATS sites.

Patients will be seen at the East Indiana Treatment Center (EITC) in Lawrenceburg, Ind.the largest methadone maintenance program in the United Statesdirected by nurse Mary Ann Detmer. At EITC patients will be treated for one month with the medication Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone that is approved for the treatment of opiate abuse. The outpatient study will couple the treatment with this drug with two different counseling methods. Half the participants will receive brief counseling when they receive their Suboxone prescriptions. The other half will be enrolled in a more intensive counseling program.

The researchers hope to learn more about the effectiveness of Suboxone when paired with different types of counseling.

"Suboxone has proven to be very effective in combating opiate dependence," says Somoza. "We're really focused now on what kind of counseling works best for people struggling with this addiction."

In addition to Somoza and Detmer, coinvestigators for the Ohio Valley portion of the study include Nabila Babar, MD, and Jeffrey Goldsmith, MD. Frankie Kropp is the local protocol manager.

For more information, visit or call Somoza or Kropp at (513) 487-7800.

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