A development in the drive to battle addiction to opioids recently came up. The Food and Drug Administration had already given its approval on what can be considered a breakthrough in medicine – the first implant treatment for opioid dependence. This is what is referred to as the Probuphine device.
Although there are already available medicines that will reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, this implant is the first of its kind. Probuphine has already been in existence for more than a decade. For 14 years, patients have been taking this prescribed medicine orally and Probuphine has been an effective drug to manage withdrawal symptoms of heroin and painkiller addicts.
This subdermal implant will be marketed in the United States by Braeburn Pharmaceuticals and will need to be done by trained healthcare providers, particularly physicians who have to be certified to insert these implants on patients. Also, it will not be available in pharmacies and will only be dispensed with prescription.
Supporters of the use of this prescribed drug say that the procedure will make the drug out of reach of children who are at risk to accidentally ingesting the drug in oral form. Apart from this, probuphine also offer other benefits such as providing correct and ample levels of buprenorphine and ensuring patient compliance. It is also given once every six months in an outpatient setting, making it convenient.
However, not all patients can be candidates for the procedure as per the FDA approval. Only those who belong to the category where dependency to buprenorphine has already been minimized to at least 8 milligrams or less are considered although trained health care providers who are certified to perform the procedure can give it to new users of the drug as well as other off-label users.
Understanding Opioid Addiction
Addiction is characterized by cravings and is a chronic disease of brain reward, memory and motivation. It can also manifest lack of impulse control. Opioid addiction is a medical condition that is considered to be an increasing global problem. The use of oral buprenorphine is considered as an effective treatment in managing this medical condition but it does not come without disadvantages such as possible abuse and incorrect dosage of the medication.
The patient will be given four implants of small sticks that are around 26 millimeters in length and will be inserted in the upper arm. The simple procedure will only take less than a quarter of an hour to finish.
The approval by the FDA of the implant will have an impact on the prevalence of opioid addiction in the U.S. with a recorded number of more than 80 people overdosing from opioids. Developed by Titan Pharmaceuticals, the marketing of Probuphine by Braeburn Pharmaceuticals is under a license agreement between the two pharmaceuticals.
Meanwhile, the first series of Probuphine implant trainings will be conducted in San Juan Puerto Rico from August 5-7 for qualified health care providers. In the U.S., more than 4,000 doctors have already expressed their interest to get certified to insert and remove the implant.