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Methadone Protects Opiate Addicts from Hepatitis C

Israeli researchers say that methadone treatment drastically reduces hepatitis C transmission.

Methadone treatment is currently considered the gold standard treatment for heroin addiction. Israeli researcher who studied methadone’s effectiveness say that not only does the medication keep people from using heroin, it also keeps them safe from infectious diseases like Hepatitis C.

The Study

The researchers studied a group of 207 Hep C negative patients who used a Tel Aviv methadone clinic between 1993 and 2008. Over that period, 25% of these patients became infected with Hep C – which is dramatically lower than the estimated 60% to 90% Hep C infection rates seen in active chronic injection drug users.

Lead researcher Einat Peles, Ph.D presented her research findings at the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Scientific Conference this month.

The Chair of this year’s ASAM conference, Gavin Bart, M.D., commented on the significance of the findings, saying, "This is a very important study because it shows that not only does treatment work for the addiction itself but is a preventive measure for hepatitis C."

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