After Time magazine published an article on Kim Janda’s heroin vaccine, there’s been a renewed interest in getting this drug. Before you go out looking for a panacea for addiction, take a moment to read this.
1. Your Doctor Cannot Give You the Heroin Vaccine
The vaccine has yet to be approved by the FDA. Kim Janda’s heroin vaccine is in the process of moving to human clinical trials. The Food and Drug Administration has to approve the drug as an investigational new-drug (IND), and then approve human clinical trials. Once that happens, the drug will be available to limited number of people selected for the study. Of those people only a portion will receive the drug, while others get a placebo. The trial must show that people given the drug have a significantly higher chance of quitting heroin than people given the placebo. Only then can the process of getting the drug to hospitals and treatment centers begin. Basically: we won’t be seeing the drug readily available for several more years.
2. The Heroin Vaccine isn’t like Methadone or Suboxone
Methadone and Suboxone are currently FDA approved to treat people with opiate addictions. Both relieve symptoms of withdrawal and cravings because they are both opiates themselves. Unlike methadone and Suboxone, the heroin vaccine Kim Janda wants to create will hinder opiate effects. His research uses the body’s own immune system to prevent opiate molecules from interacting with the brain: A person with the vaccine will not get high after using heroin. If approved for general use, the vaccine is likely to be given to people already in recovery as insurance against relapse.
3. Other Drug Addiction Vaccines Work
…but only on rats. There have been clinical (human) trials for alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, and meth. None have had very promising results. The brain and body chemistry of humans and rats are similar, but only to a point. A person faces more complex challenges than a lab rat. The psychological reasons a person turns to drugs to cope prove difficult to overcome. As with drug abuse, there is no magic pill that will cure addiction. Professional help with a holistic approach to addiction treatment is the best path to long-term recovery.
Why You’ve Never Heard of the Vaccine for Heroin Addiction External Link, Time
An Addiction Vaccine, Tantalizing Close External Link, The New York Times