New implant used to treat opioid addiction

Buprenorphine becoming treatment of choice

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Buprenorphine is fast becoming the treatment of choice when it comes to opioid addiction. It used to only come in a pill or patch, but recently the FDA approved a first-of-its-kind implant that goes in the arm. It’s called probuphine.

Forty-year-old Sarah Wilson is looking forward to moving her family into a nicer home.

Wilson told Ivanhoe, “It’s like a fresh new start and I’m so excited.”

It’s something that wouldn’t have been possible just three years ago at the height of her opioid addiction.

“At the worst of it I was taking 30 to 35 Lortabs a day,” detailed Wilson.

Wilson credits the opioid drug treatment buprenorphine as the salvation that turned her life around. She had been taking the oral form for three years before enrolling in the trial for the buprenorphine implant called probuphine. It includes four rods, each about the size of a match stick, that are surgically implanted into the arm.

Jacksonville, Florida psychiatrist Amit Vijapura, M.D. said the implant, “Sits under the skin for six months and it gradually delivers the medicine every day, equal dosage.”

After six months, the rods are removed and the patient can decide if they no longer need treatment or if they want the rods implanted again on the other arm. This can continue for as long as the patient wants. Wilson immediately saw the benefits.

“You can travel and not have to worry about it getting lost in your luggage. You don’t have to worry about the pharmacy not having your medication ready,” said Wilson.

But there is a downside. If something happens and pain medication is needed, opioids won’t work with the implant. For Wilson, finding an alternative way to control pain is well worth it.

Dr. Vijapura said the other side effect of the implant, which is typical for any form of buprenorphine, is constipation. But he said it’s so mild he rarely has to stop the medication because of it.  

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Jessica Sanchez, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Brent Sucher, Editor; Tony D’Astoli, Videographer.