What Is Lucemyra? How Does Lucemyra Work?

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August 19, 2022

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The brand medication Lucemyra can be a useful supplemental medication in the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).[1]

The FDA approved the use of Lucemyra in May 2018.[2] Its indicated use is to mitigate the symptoms of opioid withdrawal to facilitate abrupt discontinuation of opioids in adults.[1]  

What Is Lucemyra?

Lucemyra is the brand name for lofexidine oral tablets. It is considered an adjunctive medication to help mitigate some of the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Lofexidine (Lucemyra) is neither an opioid agonist nor an opioid antagonist. Lofexidine is only a short-term medication that is prescribed for a maximum of 14 days. While Lucemyra treats opioid withdrawal symptoms, it does not treat opioid use disorder long term. This is a crucial distinction between lofexidine (Lucemyra) and FDA-approved medications for opioid use disorder, which currently include Suboxone, Methadone, and Naltrexone. To better understand this difference, it is important to understand how Lucemyra works.

How Does Lucemyra Work?

Lofexidine is a non-opioid, oral, central alpha 2-adrenergic receptor antagonist. It is similar to Clonidine or other medications that can help temporarily reduce the unpleasant side effects of opioid withdrawal, including: [3]

  • Body aches and pains
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle spasms and twitching 
  • Insomnia and problems sleeping
  • Chills
  • Muscular tension 
  • Pounding heart 
  • Runny eyes
  • Yawning

Lofexidine (Lucemyra) relieves some of these symptoms by slowing the release of norepinephrine and restoring the brain’s chemical balance. Lofexidine does not completely treat the symptoms of withdrawal, but it does help to alleviate some of the discomfort of many of these symptoms.

Who Is a Candidate for Lucemyra?

Any adult who has suddenly stopped taking opioids may be a candidate for Lucemyra. It can help to relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms.

If you fit this description, talk to your doctor to determine if Lucemyra is right for you.

When & How to Take Lucemyra

Typically, withdrawal symptoms are most severe in the first 5 to 7 days following the last use of opioids.[1] It is during this time period that patients begin Lucemyra. Because the symptoms of withdrawal do not typically last longer than 14 days, Lucemyra should only be taken up to 14 days.[1]

Again, Lucemyra does not treat OUD. It only treats the uncomfortable symptoms of opioid withdrawal short term. It is recommended that lofexidine be prescribed as part of a long-term treatment plan involving a maintenance medication such as buprenorphine/naltrexone (Suboxone).

Lucemyra Side Effects

Lucemyra does have the potential to cause serious side effects in some patients. These can include the following:

  • Severe dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Slow heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration

If you experience any of these side effects, call your doctor immediately.

Other Medications for OUD

Medications for opioid use disorder are critical tools for individuals struggling with opioids. Research has repeatedly shown the efficacy of this pharmacological component in treatment. 

To date, three medications are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid use disorder (OUD): methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.[4,5,6,7] 

All brand-name MOUD prescriptions include one, or a combination, of these three medications. Common MAT brand names include Belbuca, Suboxone, naltrexone (Vivitrol), Sublocade, and Zubsolv. 

MOUDs like buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) can be used temporarily or as long-term maintenance medications to prevent opioid relapse. Patients on long-term MOUD treatment plans have significantly lower rates of relapse.[8] The long-term use of MOUDs is safe, effective, and evidence-based.

The Bottom Line

If you have to suddenly stop taking opioids, whether you have been legitimately taking them with a valid prescription or misusing them, Lucemyra may help to ease opioid withdrawal symptoms. Regardless, the gold standard medications for OUD and withdrawal are still the three aforementioned FDA approved medications Suboxone, Methadone and Naltrexone. 

Talk to your doctor about how Lucemyra could potentially help your withdrawal process and support your recovery. They can determine whether it’s a good choice for you or if another medication or therapy may work better.

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

Reviewed By

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Citations

  1. Lucemyra Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/209229s000lbl.pdf. 2018. Accessed July 2022.
  2. FDA Approves the First Non-Opioid Treatment for Management of Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms in Adults. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-non-opioid-treatment-management-opioid-withdrawal-symptoms-adults. May 2018. Accessed July 2022.
  3. Brain Norepinephrine Rediscovered in Addiction Research. Biological Psychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2666333/. June 2009. Accessed July 2022.
  4. MAT Medication, Counseling, and Related Conditions. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions. March 2022. Accessed July 2022.
  5. Methadone. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/methadone. June 2022. Accessed July 2022.
  6. Buprenorphine. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/buprenorphine. July 2022. Accessed July 2022.
  7. Naltrexone. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/naltrexone. April 2022. Accessed July 2022.
  8. Medications for Opioid Use Disorder: Treatment Improvement Protocol 63. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/SAMHSA_Digital_Download/PEP20-02-01-006_050820.pdf. 2018. Accessed July 2022.

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