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FDA Approves Implant To Fight Opiate Addiction

This week, an FDA advisory panel approved a new method of delivering medication for opiate addicts. It looks like a rod and is designed to slip comfortably under the skin to deliver the drug. The developers said that its effects would be realized after several months.

This method of administration is called Probuphine; a production of Titan Pharmaceuticals and Braeburn Pharmaceuticals companies. The medication contained in it is buprenorphine that had in 2002 been approved by the FDA for opioid addiction.

Although the molecule does not hit the addicts as morphine and heroin do, it binds receptors in the body. This means that the user can have reduced cravings without giving a full high. The intake of the molecule is taken together with naloxone that is known to negate the effects of all other added opiates. Typically, naloxone medication works as an antidote for overdoses.

With the oral medication, physicians worry that the addicts may sell the medication illegally. The president of Braeburn Pharmaceuticals Behshad Sheldon said that Buprenorphine is often confiscated by the Drug Enforcement Agency. She also added that it is also in many incidences ingested by children accidentally. In support of her argument, Sheldon said that it would be safer to have a Probuphine implant.

More to that; Sheldon added that the implant would pose long-acting repercussions that would in return contribute to the peace of mind in the patients. Therefore, the patients would not have to worry about their medication getting lost.

The entry of Probuphine as an alternative option has raised different reactions over its administration. Some physicians feel that the patients will need to be on medication forever. Others feel that buprenorphine together with Probuphine could be a ground of being medication-free. Naltrexone that is the most commonly used medication blocks the effects of any opioid an addict tries to consume. It stops the high thereby preventing a relapse. It is ideal for those that have not had much indulgence and is taken monthly as an injection. However, there are times naltrexone does not work.

There are studies that show that the epidemic of opiates is less severe in states where marijuana has been legalized. So far, recreational marijuana is legal in four states, while medical marijuana has been legalized in 23 states. Although under the federal law the drug remains illegal the reason it becomes difficult to study the effects it has and its potential uses, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants the laws on marijuana relaxed.

As the Guardian notes, researchers that want to study marijuana must have the approval of the FDA and a Drug Enforcement Administration license. In a few weeks, the Health and Human Services (HHS) US Department is expected to propose a change to the FDA rule that limits the number of addicts that can be treated with buprenorphine. This move is likely to increase the number of addicts each doctor can treat.

The HHS chief medical officer MelidaCampopiano also agreed that opioid patients would be served better if more doctors offered treatment and screening. Clinical research shows that buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone offer greater chances of recovery than other treatments that don’t involve medication like the residential stay and the 12 step programs. They say that medication lowers the risk of fatal overdose.


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