Steve Negus, Ph.D.

Negus was invited to co-author an article for the journal Neuropsychopharmacology this month on pros and cons for agonist medications in treating cocaine-use disorder. He and his co-author examine the use of amphetamines to treat cocaine addiction, which is analogous to the use of methadone to treat opioid addiction or nicotine formulations to treat dependence on tobacco products.

The article is particularly timely because the question of treating cocaine addiction has attracted accelerating attention and controversy. Growing data supports the use of amphetamine maintenance (published by Negus and others), but the practice faces opposition. Amphetamine maintenance is widely used in other patients such as those who suffer from ADHD and are prescribed Adderall.

“My research on medications development is founded on the premise that consideration of any medication for any indication depends initially on evidence for therapeutic efficacy,” Negus argues in favor of the practice, writing, “My advocacy for consideration of agonist medications to treat cocaine-use disorder stems from the growing body of preclinical and clinical evidence for their therapeutic efficacy.”

The article represents a new approach the journal is taking in which a hot topic is identified and a pair of co-authors offer opposing views. This is the third time the journal has taken the pro/con approach to a controversial topic. Negus’ co-author is Jack Henningfield, Ph.D. professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

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