Hydromorphone works as well as heroin-assisted drug addiction treatment (SALOME)

Hydromorphone was as effective as pharmaceutical heroin for opioid addiction treatment, but it was associated with fewer serious side-effects, according to results from the SALOME trial presented yesterday at the 25th International Harm Reduction Conference (HR17) in Montréal.

These findings suggest that both hydromorphone and heroin should be included among the treatment options for opioid dependence, allowing providers to tailor treatment to the individual, said study co-investigator David Marsh of Northern Ontario School of Medicine.

Methadone and buprenorphine are the standard medications used for opioid substitution therapy, but they do not work for everyone. Around 15 to 25% of people who inject heroin will not respond well to methadone. European studies have found that diacetylmorphine – the active ingredient in heroin – can be more effective for this population.

Liz Highleyman reports

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