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Could Heroin Addiction Soon Be Treated with an Implant?

 

For many years, methadone has been used to treat heroin addiction. It is also used to treat those who have developed addictions to prescription medications such as strong painkillers. Methadone is a synthetic drug made to mimic the effects of heroin but without giving the same level of high that heroin provides.

The idea behind prescribing methadone is that it is given in specific doses, which can be reduced gradually without the individual experiencing the withdrawal symptoms that tend to occur when heroin is stopped.

A New Treatment for Heroin Addiction

However, methadone could be replaced with a new treatment for heroin addiction, as federal health advisors in the US recommended approving an implant for the experimental treatment of patients suffering from heroin and opioid medication addictions.

Although there were some problems with studies, the benefits the implant could provide were deemed to outweigh any risk. The implant would be the size of a matchstick and will release low dose buprenorphine into the system of recovering heroin and prescription medication addicts over a period of six months.

According to Dr Thomas Grieger from the Maryland Department of Health, “Overall the data did have some problems. But I think clearly there was no evidence of significant risk with this agent, and there is evidence of significant benefit and hopefully great promise.”

Food and Drug Administration advisors voted 12 to 5 in favour of the device, which they believe will be a safer way to control withdrawal symptoms suffered by recovering addicts.

Alternative to Methadone

Buprenorphine is already used as a safer alternative to methadone in the treatment of addiction, but it is only available as a film or pill at the moment. Federal estimates put the number of Americans struggling with prescription medication at around 2.5 million. Nevertheless, research shows that less than half that number are receiving medication-based treatment.

The implant, which will be known as Probuphine and supplied by Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, is expected to reduce the number of chronic drug users who relapse during recovery, many of whom struggle to stick to their daily dose of medication.

Concerns

Nonetheless, there were some concerns regarding the studies carried out by Braeburn, particularly with missing urine samples. The fact that some patients were given addiction medication to control withdrawal symptoms and cravings also led some to question the effectiveness of Probuphine.

Other concerns included the administration of the device, with some doctors requesting explicit instructions regarding the patients who should be prescribed the drug. In addition, others were worried about the procedure of inserting the implant. An FDA review has already highlighted that bleeding and infection were more common with the Probuphine implant than with implants already used for contraception.

Training

However, Behshad Sheldon, CEO of Braeburn, said the company would undertake to train 1,500 doctors in the insertion procedure within the first six weeks after the launch. He said, “The few, current options are not enough to address the tremendous needs of the vast population dealing with this complex disease.”

Although it would appear that there are a few problems to be addressed before Probuphine becomes widely available for the treatment of heroin prescription medication addiction, there are a number of other issues it would address. Oral treatments including methadone and buprenorphine pose a risk of accidental overdose among children, and they can also be sold illegally on the streets. An implant would immediately eliminate these potentially fatal issues.

Treatment for Addiction

While the Probuphine implant is not currently available for the treatment of addiction, there are many other treatments available. Here at Rehab Helper, we can put you in touch with suitable providers around the UK for any addiction issues you may have. Contact us today for advice and information regarding your options.

Sources:

  1. Daily Mail 
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