FDA Approves First-Ever Implant to Treat Opioid Dependence
June 6, 2016


FDA Approves First-Ever Implant to Treat Opioid Dependence

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a controlled-release arm implant to treat addiction to heroin and other opioids, providing a new weapon in the battle against the growing opioid epidemic.

Opioid addiction is a condition that has proven to be extraordinarily difficult to manage, and public-health officials say treatment is desperately needed to fight the growing numbers of abusers. More than 47,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2014 – a number that exceeded that of car accident deaths – and the biggest drivers of those deaths were opioid painkillers and heroin. Some addiction experts have said this implant could offer a more reliable way to keep recovering addicts on their maintenance medication, and provide a more stable method of recovery.

Over the last 15 years, buprenorphine in its oral form has become a popular tool for aiding in detox by eliminating withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers. The match-stick sized implant, Probuphine, emits this same medication (buprenorphine) but delivers a controlled and continuous supply over a six-month period. For individuals with opioid-use disorders being treated with oral buprenorphine, they must decide on a day-to-day basis if they are going to take their medication and maintain their sobriety. The Probuphine implant removes that very difficult decision, thus aiding in the recovery process.

While this development is ground-breaking for the future of the way opioid dependency disorders are treated, it is not without conflict. Those who consider themselves to be firm believers in the 12-Step detox programs believe this to be “replacing one addiction with another” and that addicts who seek medically-assisted treatment options are not truly “clean” or in recovery. The persistent stigma about medication means that not all patients have, or want, access to it.

Scientific evidence, however, suggests that maintenance treatment with medications such as buprenorphine, in combination with behavioral treatment and support, are more effective in the treatment of opioid-use disorder than short-term detox programs aimed at abstinence. Such evidence has convinced many treatment providers to start incorporating medication into traditional rehab programs.

To discuss the various treatment options A New Start, Inc., can provide to you or a loved one struggling with addiction, please call us at (561) 571-8849.


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