BLOOMINGTON -- An FDA advisory panel approved an implant used to combat opioid dependence last week.
Probuphine is a rod that is implanted into the skin containing buprenorphine, an opioid dependence combative drug previously only taken orally. It works by binding to opioid receptors without giving a full high, which would over-time reduce cravings and dependence on opioids.
“It’s a little bit like a nicotine patch. It doesn’t cause the same effect that smoking a cigarette does for people. It doesn’t give people the same joy and the same pleasure that smoking a cigarette does, but it does decrease their craving for that cigarette and makes it easier for them to resist cravings and to resist temptation,” says Dr. Dan Rusyniak of IU Health.
Convenience is one benefit, but Probuphine will also help reduce the illegal distribution of buprenorphine, since the implant can’t be shared.
“There might be less opportunity to abuse it or to divert it,” Rusyniak says. “So if you get buprenorphine pills or film strips you have the potential to sell those and then with the money, you know, go out and buy heroin or the drug that you might abuse,”
Dr. Rusyniak says this isn’t a cure for opioid dependence, saying counseling is also a crucial component.
“[Probuphine] is not an answer for addiction. It is an answer to help decrease craving and maybe decrease the use of an elicit substance, but it will not fix addiction,” he says.
While buprenorphine was approved by the FDA 2002, this year is the first time it can be implanted in the form of Probuphine.