Comparison of tincture of opium and methadone
to control opioid withdrawal in a Thai treatment centre

Jittiwutikarn J, Ali R, White JM,
Bochner F, Somogyi AA, Foster DJ.
Northern Drug Dependence Centre,
Chiang Mai Province, Thailand.
Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2004 Nov;58(5):536-41


AIMS: To evaluate the effectiveness of oral tincture of opium (TOP) and methadone to control opioid withdrawal in patients in northern Thailand. METHODS: Open label, parallel group study in an inpatient facility compared 15 former heroin users receiving methadone 5-20 mg 12 hourly with 15 former opium smokers receiving TOP (3.33-10 mg morphine equivalents 12 hourly). At 0, 1, 3 and 8 h, blood, withdrawal scores and subjective opioid effects were collected. RESULTS: There was a reciprocal association between withdrawal scores/direct subjective opioid effects and plasma (R)-methadone, but not plasma morphine, concentrations. Withdrawal scores at the time of dosing were higher in the TOP patients (9.1 +/- 3) than in the methadone patients (4.5 +/- 4.6) and in the TOP patients were significantly (P = 0.001) attenuated at 3 and 8 h. CONCLUSIONS: At the doses used, TOP was inferior to methadone in suppressing withdrawal. It could prove to be a cost effective and valuable drug, but only after dose size and frequency are further investigated.
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