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Inside the opioid addiction implant

Posted on 03-03-16 in Addiction, Recovery

Inside the opioid addiction implant

Editor’s note: As of May 26, 2016:

Today the Federal Drug Administration approved Probuphine use for stabilized opioid recovery patients. The nod comes four months after the FDA’s advisory committee recommended the opioid agonist implant. Braeburn Pharmaceuticals CEO Behshad Sheldon says training for administering doctors can begin as soon as Memorial Day weekend and the implant, inserted as a quartet of devices, could be in patients by the end of June.

Addicts who are given medication-assisted treatment – currently methadone, naloxone and buprenorphine – cut their risk of HIV infection or death in half. That’s according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Methadone is available only at specialized clinics, where patients typically must go every day to receive a dose and miss out when clinics have holiday closures. And travel is Russian roulette – as some countries prohibit buprenorphine by law. Some addicts have sold their supply of methadone, or had it stolen, to fund addiction.

Of physicians authorized to prescribe buprenorphine treatment, 66 percent report that consumer demand surpasses the stipulation of a 100-patient limit per physician. This, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

News of children permanently marred or killed from swallowing a relative’s Suboxone or buprenorphine pill continue to sucker-punch us.

There’s got to be a better way to treat what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled an epidemic of opioid abuse and overdoses festering within the nation. One solution has recently surfaced: opioid addiction implants.

Subdermal Rx

About the size of a matchstick, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals opioid addiction treatment Probuphine is made of ethylene-vinyl acetate and laced with the partial opioid agonist buprenorphine hydrochloride. Doctors inject the implant typically in the inner arm of the patient, atop the bicep, in an outpatient procedure.

As the implant slowly dissolves, it releases buprenorphine into the patient’s bloodstream over the course of six months. The medication’s function is to mitigate cravings and help the patient maintain sobriety from opioids. At the end of the six-month treatment, the implant is removed.

It is true the body may try to reject a subdermal implant like Probuphine. Pathogens attached to foreign invasions in the body and chemicals lingering on nonmedically certified materials are what trigger immune responses like fever, swelling and internal dermal regeneration, wherein tissue builds upon itself to inch an object out like a snake’s lateral undulation. The implant, however, is made of such nontoxic materials and chemicals that the body will eventually work around it, like a stopped car in traffic.

Other implants currently in play

Probuphine is one of a growing line of subdermal implants to be developed for an increasingly wide range of applications:

  • Subdermal birth control implants contain three years’ worth of slow-release birth control hormones and boast an impressive 99.95 percent efficacy.
  • Pet ID microchips are enclosed in a glass cylinder about the size of a grain of rice; they only contain identification numbers and can be used to trace a pet to its owner’s contact information.
  • Auricular therapy is a type of acupuncture where a truncated needle is lodged in particular parts of the outer ear, corresponding to the apparent microsystem of the body and primarily inserted for pain management.
  • One company in Sweden has created an implant chip to replace the all-access employee badge; those who opt in have the implant inserted in the meat between the thumb and forefinger to receive door, printer and even coffee cart access.
  • out of Cincinnati, Ohio, offers the chip to its small group of employees who need highly secure access to provide video surveillance for clients and police.

Currently awaiting a ruling on FDA approval, which Braeburn expects by May 27, 2016, the Probuphine opioid treatment implant could soon offer a hassle-free, theft-and barter-proof, and forget-me-not treatment option to save those dependent on opioids from addiction and overdose.

The Sovereign Health Group will continue to monitor this developing story.

If you or a loved one has developed a dependency problem, Sovereign Health can help. We provide comfort, ease of access and cutting-edge treatment that is scientifically customized to holistically rehabilitate. Call our 24/7 helpline for details.

About the author

Sovereign Health Group staff writer Kristin Currin is a mindful spirit swimming in metaphysical pools with faith as her compass. Her cover: a 30s-something Cinderella breadwinner of an all-sport blended family. Her repertoire includes writing poetry, lifestyle articles and TV news; editing, radio production and on-camera reporting. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at