Also Known As: Nalmefene, Revex

Nalmefene (Revex) is an opioid receptor antagonist developed in the early 1970s, and used primarily in the management of alcohol dependence, and also has been investigated for the treatment of other addictions such as pathological gambling and addiction to shopping.

Nalmefene is an opiate derivative similar in both structure and activity to the opiate antagonist naltrexone. Advantages of nalmefene relative to naltrexone include longer half-life, greater oral bioavailability and no observed dose-dependent liver toxicity. As with other drugs of this type, nalmefene can precipitate acute withdrawal symptoms in patients who are dependent on opioid drugs, or more rarely when used post-operatively to counteract the effects of strong opioids used in surgery.

Nalmefene differs from naltrexone by substitution of the ketone group at the 6-position of naltrexone with a methylene (CH2) group, which considerably increases binding affinity to the μ-opioid receptor. Nalmefene also has high affinity for the other opioid receptors, and is known as a "universal antagonist" for its ability to block all three.

In clinical trials using this drug, doses used for treating alcoholism were in the range of 20-80 mg per day, orally. The doses tested for treating pathological gambling were between 25-100 mg per day. In both trials, there was little difference in efficacy between the lower and higher dosage regimes, and the lower dose (20 and 25 mg, respectively) was the best tolerated, with similar therapeutic efficacy to the higher doses and less side effects. Nalmefene is thus around twice as potent as naltrexone when used for the treatment of addictions.

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