There are about 1.5 million current cocaine abusers in the U.S., as reported by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Cocaine blocks dopamine transporters, which increases the amount of dopamine in the brain and increases activation of the reward circuitry. Chronic cocaine use has also been shown to increase in the number of opioid receptors expressed in the reward circuitry. When opioids activate opioid receptors they initiate a dopamine release which activates the reward circuitry. Opioid antagonists can help to manage cocaine-induced activation of the reward circuitry by both blocking the activation of increased opioid receptors and limiting opioid-initiated dopamine release.
Presently, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cocaine addiction and treatment is limited to behavioral interventions. Opiant’s opioid antagonist nasal spray could be used as a symptom-driven therapy to manage activation of the reward circuitry and help patients reduce or avoid cocaine use. Opiant is currently evaluating its opioid antagonist nasal spray for the treatment of cocaine use disorder.