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Probuphine: An Implant That May Revolutionize Opioid Addiction Treatment

by Jeffrey Juergens ❘  

Recovering With Probuphine

While overcoming an opioid addiction and its uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, you may be prescribed buprenorphine – an opioid partial agonist. It works in the brain and sticks to receptors that are often occupied by opioids. Buprenorphine helps alleviate the signs associated with a withdrawal such as nausea, insomnia and irritability.

For many years, buprenorphine has only been available in products that must be administered daily. However, taking medicine at the same time each day can be challenging, especially with the numerous other daily activities you have going on.

Probuphine was recently approved by the FDA and is the first buprenorphine implant to hit the market. Since it’s a temporary implanted device, you can ease worries about losing you medication, forgetting to take it or having it stolen.

Buprenorphine is one of the most common prescriptions for opioid addiction treatment today. In fact, more than one million people take buprenorphine each year.

The new treatment will be available for those who are currently stable on a low-to-moderate dose of other forms of buprenorphine. By administering the medication consistently throughout the body, the implant helps with:

  • Reducing withdrawal symptoms
  • Cutting opioid cravings
  • Lowering the risk of a relapse
  • Blocking the effects of opioids

“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…Today’s approval provides the first-ever implantable option to support patients’ efforts to maintain treatment as part of their overall recovery program.

- Robert M. Califf, M.D., FDA Commissioner

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Alternative Method for Treating an Opioid Addiction

Until now, buprenorphine has only been available in two forms: a tablet and a film.

Designed with four, small rods, the implant is placed under the skin in the upper part of your arm. The procedure for implantation takes approximately 10-15 minutes and can be done in an outpatient setting, such as your doctor’s office.  

Once implanted, Probuphine will continuously deliver buprenorphine to your body for six months. At the end of treatment, the device is removed in a procedure that takes roughly 20 minutes. If you are still experiencing withdrawals from opioids, your doctor may recommend an additional implant. In cases such as these, Probuphine will be implanted in the arm not used during your initial treatment.  

Benefits and Advantages to Probuphine

Although Probuphine is new to the market, doctors and patients in treatment have already noticed some of the benefits it provides.  

Several of the early recognized advantages of Probuphine include:

  • The implant makes it more difficult to sell buprenorphine on the street. Other products, such as the tablets and strips, often wind up on the street for nonmedical uses.
  • The device is a safe alternative to other medication forms. With tablets especially, you need to ensure the bottle is kept out of the reach of children.
  • The implant makes it easier for you to live life. You can travel and participate in various activities without having to think about when your next dose needs to be administered. 

    For someone with an opioid-use disorder, they have to decide on a daily basis if they’re going to take their buprenorphine. That decision every day to remain abstinent from opioids is difficult. The implant takes away that decision.

    - Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer of Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

Comprehensive Treatment Plans for Opioid Addiction

Probuphine is used to maintain your abstinence from opioids to achieve long-term sobriety. However, it is not a cure for opioid addiction and should not be your only method of treatment.

Taking Probuphine as part of a comprehensive recovery program offers the greatest chance for getting your life back on track. Some other components of an opioid addiction treatment plan may consist of:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Sober living homes
  • Faith-based treatment
  • Support groups

Your doctor or addiction treatment provider will be able to work with you to develop a recovery plan tailored to your condition and lifestyle.

You don’t have to overcome an opioid addiction alone. Contact a treatment provider for help with rehab-related questions. 

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