Intravenous and oral l-α-acetylmethadol: Pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics in humans

Sharon L. Walsh, Rolley E. Johnson, Edward J. Cone, George E. Bigelow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Levo-α-acetylmethadol (LAAM) is a long-acting opioid agonist approved for use as a maintenance treatment for opioid dependence. Previous clinical studies report that the onset of the effects of LAAM is slower after parenteral administration than oral administration; however, preclinical studies suggest otherwise. This study examined the pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic profile of LAAM when given orally and intravenously to humans. Opioid-experienced volunteers (n = 6), who were not physically dependent on opioids, received LAAM (20 and 40 mg/70 kg i.v. and p.o.) and placebo under double-blind, double-dummy conditions during five weekly experimental sessionS. Behavioral, physiological, subjective and pharmacokinetic measures were collected before and for 96 hr after drug administration. Intravenous LAAM produced significant subjective and physiological effects that appeared within 5 min, whereas the effects of oral LAAM appeared more slowly within 1 to 2 hr after drug administration. Pharmacokinetic data indicate that the immediate effects of intravenous LAAM are largely attributable to the parent drug rather than the active metabolites, nor-LAAM and dinor-LAAM. LAAM produced prototypic opioid agonist effects (i.e., miosis, subjective ratings of high, nodding) that were of equal magnitude across routes, dose-related and of long duration (up to 60 hr). These data are in contrast to previous clinical reports and indicate that LAAM produces effects of immediate onset when administered parenterally, which suggests that intravenous LAAM possesses greater abuse potential than previously believed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-82
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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