The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a revolutionary stance by approving the first buprenorphine implant – Probuphine, which releases medicines for the treatment of opioid addiction and dependence – recently. The matchstick-size implant is similar to an implantable contraceptive device and emits steady and low doses of buprenorphine for six months. Thus, it helps ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms and reduce the relapse rate. It just takes 15 minutes to either insert or remove the implant.
Probuphine, with its new application to treat people with addiction, seems to be a promising and impactful alternative to the traditional forms of drug treatment. The implant, which was approved by the FDA on May 26, 2016, is marketed by Braeburn Pharmaceuticals and Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. According to Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, a six-month supply of Probuphine would cost less than $6,000.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 47,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2014, primarily driven by opioid painkillers and heroin. FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. said, “Opioid abuse and addiction have taken a devastating toll on American families. We must do everything we can to make new, innovative treatment options available that can help patients regain control over their lives.”
Restriction on Probuphine use
However, not all addicts can reap the benefits of Probuphine for now. The FDA has cleared this implant for use on those patients who are already stable on low-to-moderate doses of buprenorphine, at least for six months. Braeburn Pharmaceuticals estimates that 325,000 of the 1.3 million patients (nearly one-fourth) currently on buprenorphine meet the criterion of implanting Probuphine.
The FDA said that Probuphine should be moderated along with “psychological counseling.” Moreover, all healthcare clinicians who will administer this implant need to undergo specific training on insertion processes to get a medical certification for carrying out future implants.
It is the first time that buprenorphine will be made available in the form of an implant. Before this, the drug was available only in the form of a pill and films that dissolve in the mouth. Though buprenorphine is an effective solution, it opens doors for drug dealers to sell it illegally for drug money. Moreover, if not used in accordance with the prescribed guidelines, there is always a chance of overdose. But since Probuphine is in the form of an implant, such situations are unlikely to occur. The drug may also prove beneficial in preventing a relapse that generally happens when patients miss a medicine dose.
At the National Institutes of Health, Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), said, “Maintenance medications can make all the difference in supporting a person’s stable recovery. I expect and hope that Probuphine will be a game-changer in how we fight opioid use disorder.”
Getting free from opioid addiction
Innovative medications like Probuphine can redefine treatments related to opioid addiction. With America fighting the opioid and heroin epidemic, the decision in favor of the implant comes as a new ray of hope.
If you or your loved one is battling opioid abuse, please seek assistance from relevant prescription drug abuse treatment centers in the U.S. The Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline can help you connect to the best prescription drug abuse treatment clinic that has revolutionized opioid treatments by customizing the recovery process according to the patient’s severity of abuse. For more information, please chat online with our treatment advisors or call our 24/7 helpline at 866-450-1557.