Sean MurphyAssistant Professor Sean Murphy in the Health Policy and Administrative Department at WSU College of Nursing has jointly authored a paper that was published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article, “Opioid Relapse Rates Fall with Long-Term Use of Medication for Adults in Criminal Justice System,” was published online on March 31, 2016 and is based on research and analysis conducted in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, NYU Langone Medical Center, Brown University, Columbia University Medical Center and Friends Research Institute.

Co-authors include:

  • Joshua D. Lee, MD
  • Peter D. Friedmann, MD, MPH
  • Timothy W. Kinlock, PhD
  • Edward V. Nunes, MD
  • Tamara Y. Boney, MS CCRC
  • Randall A. Hoskinson, Jr.
  • Donna Wilson, MS
  • Ryan McDonald, MA
  • John Rotrosen, MD
  • Marc N. Gourevitch, MD, MPH
  • Michael Gordon, DPA
  • Marc Fishman, MD
  • Donna T. Chen, MD, MPH
  • Richard J. Bonnie, LLB
  • James W. Cornish, MD S
  • Charles P. O’Brien, MD PhD

Opioid misuse is a rapidly escalating public health crisis in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses accounted for more deaths nationwide in 2013 than automobile accidents—with 71 percent of these overdose deaths attributed to opioid painkillers.

Research findings from this study could highlight additional effects of the opioid epidemic.
The study showed that in a randomized, controlled clinical trial an extended-release version of the medication naltrexone (Vivitrol®) significantly prevented opioid relapses in individuals with previous involvement with the criminal justice system.

In a statement from NYU Langone Medical Center, the lead author, Joshua D. Lee, MD, MSc, associate professor said “We believe our study is the first of its kind to look at the real-world effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone in community settings. It may be particularly effective with populations, such as recently released prisoners, who typically don’t have access to other evidence-based daily medications for opiate disorders, like methadone or buprenorphine.”
Naltrexone is the unique component to the study. While it has been used to help treat alcohol use disorder since 2006, it has only been approved as a therapy for opioid use disorder since 2010. Dr. Murphy will lead the subsequent cost-effectiveness analysis of the project, which will be the first study to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone as a therapy for opioid use disorder in a clinical trial setting.