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Breathing Problems Linked to Drug that Treats Opioid Addiction

A drug used to treat opioid addiction could cause breathing problems in some obese patients, according to a new study from UT scientists.

Buprenorphine is a Schedule III drug with a lower abuse potential than methadone. It is one of three drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to help patients undergoing treatment for opioid abuse. The UT study found that the drug impairs the ability of obese mice to vary their breathing. These findings in mice may encourage similar studies in humans, since the ability to vary breathing helps us achieve tasks such as climbing stairs and respond to challenges such as disease and surgical stress.

The discovery of the drug’s previously unknown side effect could help clinicians improve patient care, said the study’s lead author, Ralph Lydic, Robert H. Cole Endowed Professor of Neuroscience in the UT Department of Psychology and the Department of Anesthesiology at UT Medical Center.

Continue reading about the study at news.utk.edu.

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