New Drug for Opioid Withdrawal

Janaburson's Blog

Last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved lofexidine for the treatment of opioid withdrawal symptoms, under the brand name Lucemyra.

This medication is an alpha 2a adrenergic receptor agonist, which means it acts on the same receptors as epinephrine and norepinephrine. However, when the specific alpha 2a receptors are activated, less norepinephrine is released, and so the actions of epinephrine and norepinephrine are reduced.

Lofexidine is not an opioid, and has no effect on the opioid receptors. It doesn’t cause euphoria or intoxication and thus is not a controlled substance.

So, you may be wondering, how does this medication help with opioid withdrawal?

Among many other places in the central nervous system, opioids act on a part of the brain called the locus ceruleus. The locus ceruleus, which in Latin means the “blue place,” is part of the system that controls the autonomic nervous system. When locus ceruleus…

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