SAN DIEGO – Lofexidine ( ), the new kid on the block in the United States for opioid withdrawal, can help patients get through the process in a few days, instead of a week or more, according to Thomas Kosten, MD, a psychiatry professor and director of the division of addictions at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.
Lofexidine relieves symptom withdrawal and has significant advantages over clonidine, a similar drug, including easier dosing and no orthostatic hypertension.
In a video interview at the annual Psych Congress,went into the nuts and bolts of how to use lofexidine with buprenorphine and naltrexone – plus benzodiazepines when needed – to help people safely go through withdrawal and in just a few days.
Once chronic pain patients are off opioids, the next question is what to do for their pain. In a presentation before the interview, Dr. Kosten said he favors tricyclic antidepressants, especially desipramine because it has the fewest side effects. The effect size with tricyclic antidepressants is larger than with gabapentin and other options. They take a few weeks to kick in, however, so he’s thinking about a unique approach: using ketamine – either infusions or the new nasal spray esketamine () – to tide people over in the meantime. It’s becoming well known that ketamine works amazingly fast for depression and suicidality, and there is emerging support that it might do the same for chronic pain. Dr. Kosten is a consultant for US Worldmeds, maker of lofexidine.