Probuphine for Opioid Addiction
Probuphine is a new drug recently developed and released by Braeburn Pharmaceuticals. The drug is FDA-approved and is a time-released version of buprenorphine (the active ingredient in Suboxone that staves off opioid withdrawal symtoms).
Probuphine must be implanted beneath the patient’s skin (typically in the arm) where it gradually distributes medication for 6 months. The benefit is that the patient does not have to follow a daily medication regimen of taking buprenorphine orally. The opioid agonist contained in Probuphine remains present in the bloodstream and eliminates the painful opioid withdrawal symptoms that drive most addicts back to daily use of heroin and other illicit opioids.
Studies found that patients receiving Probuphine, over oral buprenorphine, were 14% more likely to stay opioid-free (as published in the Journal of the American Medical Association). Doctors administering Probuphine may be certified as an implanter, a prescriber, or both. The linked article above states that 1800 physicians have been certified thus far.
As with any medication-assisted treatment, counseling and therapy are essential in the overall treatment and recovery process. Some patients receiving Probuphine have expressed a favorable view of the ability to eliminate trips to the pharmacy and concerns over missing a daily dose of medication.
More time is needed to better gauge how effective Probuphine will be compared to other medication-assisted approaches. It seems to offer a valuable level of convenience for those who are not opposed to the required implant.