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Analysis of the opioid abuse treatment implant

Analysis of the opioid abuse treatment implant

Braeburn Pharmaceuticals has launched a six-week, 55-city nationwide tour training physicians on insertion of the recently approved opioid addiction treatment device.

As mentioned in our previous Probuphine update, the pharmaceutical company plans to get the device in opioid recovery patients before Independence Day. Braeburn estimates having 2,000 medical providers trained by the end of July and double that number by the end of 2016.

In all the excitement and momentum of this latest breakthrough in the opioid abuse epidemic, there remain some details that should be understood before patients make the decision to partake in the treatment.

The fine print

1. ABC News Senior medical contributor Jennifer Ashton, M.D., says the implant can cost around $1,000 monthly.

Braeburn Pharmeceuticals President and CEO Behshad Sheldon affirms: “Braeburn is confident in Probuphine’s value and is exploring reimbursement approaches with insurers, including value-based programs. A payment assistance program will also be put in place to ensure access to Probuphine for patients.”

2.Here in the U.S., patients can only get the implant from authorized and trained health care providers. Patients should be wary of any professional offering a substantial discount for insertion or lacking a clearly displayed authorization that can be verified.

3. According to the Federal Drug Administration, if a woman becomes pregnant, the implant may cause harm to the baby. If a patient suspects or confirms a pregnancy, she’d need to inform her physician of the conflict immediately.

4. Part of the inherent danger with implanted devices is forgetting its presence and engaging in harmful activities during the treatment. Other contraindications to consider include possible fatal interactions such as consuming large quantities of alcohol or taking downers that further belabor respiration. A side effect of buprenorphine is drowsiness and slowed breathing; compounding these symptoms is dangerous.

5. The implant helps diversify treatment options – in itself it doesn’t actually treat opioid addicts. Probuphine delivers the same buprenorphine compound available in oral form, without the misappropriation issues that helped fuel rampant abuse. As many as 50 percent of oral buprenorphine prescriptions are rerouted from the intended patient, either by illegal sale or theft.

6. The medication in the implant can be addictive because it has a mild euphoric affect, delayed onset and long duration.

Criticisms of the implant

Psychology Today contributor Indra Cidambi, M.D., cites several reasons why she believes Probuphine use won’t hold up as a viable option in the long run:

  • Lack of the necessary surgical skills. “Currently family/general practitioners, Doctors of Osteopathy, internists and psychiatrists write nearly three-fourths of buprenorphine prescriptions,” Cidami explains and says only a small fraction of those are experienced in surgery. She says one study demonstrated more than half those trained for clinical trials were not able to remove the quartet of insertions successfully, because they could no longer feel the implants. Delaying removal with ultrasounds, MRIs and surgical referrals will complicate the treatment process
  • Possible insufficient dosage. The implant is a recovery maintenance method for people weaned down to 8 mg or less daily; Check-ins are only twice a year, so if the dosage ends up being less than what a patient needs, then he or she could be lured to supplement.
  • Risk of double-dipping with “benzos.Coabuse of opiates with benzodiazepines has amplified 570 percent in first decade of 2000. Simultaneous use of the sedative, or alcohol, is just as dangerous as the patient’s previous painkiller addiction.

The Sovereign Health Group keeps readers abreast on this and other clinical breakthroughs. We serve as a leader nationwide in mental health rehabilitation from all manifestations of disorder. Sovereign Health provides holistic treatment for substance abuse, eating disorders, and dual diagnosis co-occurring conditions. To learn more about the treatment programs we offer please call our 24/7 helpline.

About the author

Sovereign Health Group staff writer Kristin Currin-Sheehan 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