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What Is Lucemyra? How Does Lucemyra Work?

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Aug 11, 2023 • 8 cited sources

 The brand-name medication Lucemyra can be a useful part of your opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment plan.[1]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lucemyra in May 2018 to mitigate symptoms you might feel when abruptly quitting opioids.[2] While Lucemyra can’t treat your underlying OUD, it can make withdrawal easier.  

What Is Lucemyra?

Lucemyra (generic name: lofexidine) is used to ease opioid withdrawal symptoms. The medication comes in pill form and requires a prescription. Most people take the pills for about 14 days. 

While Lucemyra treats opioid withdrawal symptoms, it does not treat opioid use disorder long term. Lucemyra is neither an opioid agonist nor an opioid antagonist. This means that it’s a completely different type of medication than FDA-approved OUD therapies such as Suboxone, methadone, and naltrexone. 

How Does Lucemyra Work?

Lofexidine is a non-opioid central alpha 2-adrenergic receptor agonist that can help to temporarily reduce the unpleasant side effects of opioid withdrawal, including these: [3]

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

Lucemyra relieves these symptoms by slowing the release of norepinephrine and restoring the brain’s chemical balance. While Lucemyra may not completely treat all withdrawal symptoms, it can ease discomfort.

Who Is a Candidate for Lucemyra?

Any adult who suddenly stops 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.

Who Is Not a Good Candidate for Lucemyra?

While Lucemyra is considered safe and effective, it’s not the right choice for everyone. Your doctor can help you decide, but you must be honest about your medical history.

Tell your doctor about the following risk factors:[1]

  • Low blood pressure 
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Recent heart attack
  • Chronic renal failure 
  • Family history of long QT syndrome, a heart condition
  • Liver disease 
  • Use of central nervous system depressants, barbiturates, alcohol or other sedating drugs 

Your doctor may run tests before you start taking Lucemyra to ensure you’re a good candidate. 

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 period that patients begin Lucemyra. 

Because withdrawal symptoms don’t last long, Lucemyra should only be taken up to 14 days.[1]

Lucemyra only treats the uncomfortable, short-term symptoms of opioid withdrawal, not underlying OUD. Lucemyra is recommended as part of a long-term treatment plan involving a maintenance medication such as buprenorphine/naltrexone (Suboxone).

What Happens if You Miss a Dose?

Lucemyra works best when the medication remains in your system at a constant level. Use your phone to remind you when to take your next pill, or ask someone to give you your pills when they are due. 

If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s close to time for your next dose, take that instead. Never take two doses at the same time.

If you’re not sure whether to take your next dose or skip it, ask your doctor for advice. 

Lucemyra Side Effects

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

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

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

What to Avoid While on Lucemyra

Read all of the documents that come with your pills, and ask your doctor about how to stay safe while you’re using your medication.

In general, these are things to avoid while using your medication:[1]

  • Standing up too fast: Lucemyra can decrease your blood pressure, making fainting a little easier if you move too quickly. 
  • Dehydration: Drink plenty of fluids to protect your heart and blood pressure. 
  • Sedating drugs: Don’t drink alcohol, take barbiturates, or use anything that might impact your central nervous system. 
  • Quit abruptly: You can experience a spike in blood pressure if you stop taking this medication suddenly. Talk with your doctor about how to taper. 

Other Medications for OUD

Medications for opioid use disorder are critical tools for individuals struggling with opioids.[4] 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): methadonebuprenorphine and naltrexone.[5,6,7] 

All brand-name OUD prescriptions include one, or a combination, of these three medications. Common medication brand names include Belbuca, Suboxone, Vivitrol, Sublocade and Zubsolv.

Medications like Suboxone can be used temporarily or long term to prevent opioid relapse. Patients on long-term treatment plans have significantly lower rates of relapse.[8] The long-term use of medications for OUD is widely considered 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 FDA-approved medications:

  • Suboxone 
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone

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

MAT

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

Sources
  1. Lucemyra Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/209229s000lbl.pdf. 2018. Accessed February 2023.
  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 February 2023.
  3. Brain Norepinephrine Rediscovered in Addiction Research. Biological Psychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2666333/. June 2009. Accessed February 2023.
  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 February 2023.
  5. Methadone. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/methadone. June 2022. Accessed February 2023.
  6. Buprenorphine. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/buprenorphine. July 2022. Accessed February 2023.
  7. Naltrexone. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/naltrexone. April 2022. Accessed February 2023.
  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 February 2023.

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