Recent Study: Opioid Medications Do Not Damage Liver
A study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Clinical Trials Network, Dr. Andrew Saxon at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seatte, and Dr. Walter Ling at the University of California examined buprenorphine/naloxone and methadone in relation to their effects on the liver. The study concluded that both bup/nx and methadone have no negative effects on the liver.
The researchers assigned 1,269 new patients to eight opioid treatment programs in the United States for either bup/nx or methadone treatment. 731 of patients provided blood samples of liver function tests for the study (NIDA, 2013). Researchers were examining the amount of two specific enzymes—alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase—that the liver released when it has sustained damage.
Most of the patients involved in the study presented no liver problems, but 15.5 percent indicated some ongoing damage and a few patients had severe liver damage. Both bux/nx and methadone had very similar readings that concluded that both medications were safe for the liver. The researchers could not definitively prove that the worsening of liver function indicated by some of the patients was not related to the medications, but according to NIDA “their analysis produced no evidence” that it was related (2013).
This study was published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2013). Medications that treat opioid addiction do not impair liver health. NIDA Notes. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2013/12/medications-treat-opioid-addiction-do-not-impair-liver-health?utm_source=Updates&utm_medium=MailChimp&utm_content=12.17.2013&utm_campaign=NIDANotes