Naltrexone Underused to Treat Alcohol Dependence
A number of clinical trials have demonstrated naltrexone's efficacy in treating alcohol dependence. Practice guidelines suggest prescribing the drug for at least 3 months or longer, depending on need. To determine the frequency and duration of naltrexone use, researchers analyzed insurance claims of 1.5 million health plan members with prescription drug and behavioral health benefits, and assessed filled prescriptions for the drug from 2000 to 2002.
Less than 10% of plan members who received treatment for alcohol dependence received naltrexone. This proportion did not differ over the 3 years studied. Approximately one half of the naltrexone prescriptions were supplied for 30 days or fewer.
Despite demonstrated efficacy, naltrexone is not being prescribed frequently, nor is it being prescribed for adequate courses of treatment. Efforts are needed to disseminate proven effective treatments for alcohol dependence, like naltrexone, into clinical practice.Richard Saitz, MD, MPH
KM, DeVries A, Dimidjian K. Trends in naltrexone
use among members of a large private health plan. Psychiatr
(view full article)