FDA to consider new opioid-treating implant

Probuphine contains two drugs that control cravings and withdrawal symptoms from opioids.

Probuphine contains two drugs that control cravings and withdrawal symptoms from opioids. (1/13/16)

WOODBURY - A new implant treatment could help people who are addicted to opioids like prescription painkillers or heroin.

Probuphine contains two drugs that control cravings and withdrawal symptoms from opioids.

It's a matchstick-sized implant that slowly releases a low dose of buprenorphine and naloxone over six months.

Buprenorphine is currently available as a pill, but the drugmaker says addicts can forget to take their daily doses or sell the pills illegally.

Experts say the implant, which is inserted in the inner arm, eliminates these problems.

Addiction to opioids is a national epidemic, according to Jeff Reynolds, of the Family and Children's Association.

"The upside to a six-month implant means that it can't be traded," Reynolds says. "It can't be sold. You can't change your mind."

But recovered addicts expressed some reservations.

"I think for certain people it could work," says Tatiana Green, of North Massapequa. "But the problem is that if somebody is not committed to their recovery, and it's forced upon them, they could then use on top of the drug. And there's possibility of them still overdosing."

Others say the implant could work in tandem with other recovery programs, like going to meetings for group support.

An advisory committee has recommended the Food and Drug Administration approve the implant.

The FDA is expected to decide by the end of February.

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