The persistent challenge of developing addiction pharmacotherapies

Sarah E. Swinford-Jackson, Charles P. O’brien, Paul J. Kenny, Louk J.M.J. Vanderschuren, Ellen M. Unterwald, R. Christopher Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


There are currently effective Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved therapies for alcohol, nicotine, and opioid use disorders. This article will review the development of eight compounds used in the treatment of drug addiction with an emphasis on pharmacological mechanisms and the utility of preclinical animal models of addiction in therapeutic development. In contrast to these successes, animal research has identified a number of promising medications for the treatment of psychostimulant use disorder, none of which have proven to be clinically effective. A specific example of an apparently promising phar-macotherapeutic for cocaine that failed clinically will be examined to determine whether this truly represents a challenge to the predictive validity of current models of cocaine addiction. In addition, the development of promising cocaine use disorder therapeutics derived from animal research will be reviewed, with some discussion regarding how preclinical studies might be modified to better inform clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera040311
JournalCold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


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