On May 26th, federal health officials approved a new drug-oozing implant for Americans struggling with addiction to heroin and painkillers. The implant is able to curb craving and withdrawal symptoms for six months at a time.

The Probuphine device hopes to help as communities all over the U.S. attempt to deal with a wave of addiction to opioids. Opioids are pain meds that reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion. Medications in this class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and other related drugs. These drugs are highly-addictive and roughly 2.5 million Americans suffer from addiction disorders related to them.

The new implant from Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, which is the size of a matchstick, is a long-term delivery system for the drug buprenorphine (long used to treat opioid addiction). With this new implantable format, it’s possible that patients could avoid dangerous relapses should they miss a medication dose. This new system is considered a better alternative to methadone, which has been used for decades to control opioid addiction.

From ABC 2:

“PROBUPHINE IS INTENDED FOR PATIENTS WHO HAVE ALREADY BEEN STABILIZED ON LOW-TO-MEDIUM DOSES OF BUPRENORPHINE FOR AT LEAST A HALF YEAR. BRAEBURN ESTIMATES THAT ONE FOURTH, OR 325,000, OF THE 1.3 MILLION PATIENTS CURRENTLY TAKING BUPRENORPHINE MEET THAT CRITERION.

THE FDA PREVIOUSLY REJECTED PROBUPHINE IN 2012, JUDGING THE DRUG’S DOSE WAS TOO LOW TO RELIABLY HELP THE BROAD RANGE OF OPIOID-ADDICTED PATIENTS. BRAEBURN AND PARTNER TITAN PHARMACEUTICALS RESUBMITTED THE PRODUCT WITH ADDITIONAL DATA AND IT RECEIVED A POSITIVE ENDORSEMENT FROM FEDERAL ADVISERS EARLIER THIS YEAR.”

The FDA would like to see Probuphine used as part of a multifaceted addiction treatment program which also includes counseling and other types of support. And, if a doctor wants to be able to implant the device, they must first receive special training to safely insert and remove the device.

In the year 2014, heroin and opioid painkillers caused 28,650 fatal overdoses- the highest number on record in the U.S. Anything we can do to help elevate addiction and the problems associated with it, should be explored.

What do you think?

Source: WBAY ABC 2

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