Slow release baclofen. Is it possible?

Yes, it is possible and has already been developed but is not available commercially.

Baclofen can be made into a slow release preparation by keeping the tablet in the stomach for as long as possible.

Baclofen is absorbed only by the very first part of the small intestine so once the tablet passes this area of the intestines, within 1-2 hours, its absorption ceases. Once in the bloodstream, baclofen is excreted by the kidneys, largely as unchanged drug and gives it a half life of 4-6 hours only.

A company in India, Sun Pharma, has developed a sustained release preparation of baclofen. The baclofen tablets are modified to make them float on the surface of the stomach liquid so they stay within stomach for many hours instead of passing into the small intestine. This modification, called a “gastric retention system”, gives sustained release of baclofen over a long period and they believe that this will allow baclofen to be given only once a day. They are in the process of testing it in patients to see if this is indeed true.


The slow release baclofen formulation is being developed for patients who use baclofen for its old indication – muscle spasms due to spinal cord problems and multiple sclerosis. A slow release formulation of baclofen would give these patients smoother control of their painful muscle spasms.

However slow release baclofen would also be very useful for alcohol addiction treatment, making it easier for many patients, especially those who don’t like or find it hard to take tablets multiple times a day. It would also provide smoother control of cravings and anxiety. With the number of patients worldwide using baclofen for alcohol addiction increasing rapidly, there is an incentive for pharmaceutical companies to produce slow release baclofen for this much larger patient group. Baclofen itself is too cheap to interest them but the incentive of being able to charge a higher price for the convenience of slow release baclofen may change this.