FDA Approved Arm Implant to Fight Opioids

New FDA Approved Arm Implant to Treat Opioid Addiction


A new implant device manufactured by Braeburn Pharmaceuticals has received FDA approval for the treatment of opioid addictions from heroin and other prescription painkillers.  The minuscule device – marketed as Probuphine, is inserted into the arm where it supplies six months worth of the opioid receptor blocking drug Buprenorphine.  Unlike other Buprenorphine drugs that come in pill form and allow for human error because of missed doses, the implant once inserted provides a steady stream of medication that can’t be misused by the patient.  The new technological innovation is being touted as the next big treatment for opioid addiction for its ability to ease craving and withdrawal, while also blocking the high.

New Wave of Addiction Technology

This most recent addition in medical technology designed to curb the use of opioid substances is a response to the massive death spike this country has seen in the last ten years.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014 a record number of people died from drug overdoses, and of that number six out of ten involved an opioid.   Heroin and other opioid prescription overdoses have practically quadrupled since that time and a need for immediate action was declared by the medical and healthcare establishment.  New innovation in the field of technology would be essential if the country is to have any chance of leveling the playing field against the oppressive monster that is the opiate and opioid epidemic.  

Probuphine is a logical outgrowth of that movement within the medical industry and it has been met with mixed reviews and its own fair share of detractors.  The traditional school of thought among the treatment and recovery community has been an outright total-sobriety approach that has little room or tolerance for any other modality treating addiction.  The ultimate goal is to always have the individual completely refrain from ever relapsing back into substance abuse.  If radically novel approaches come along that can kickstart the process perhaps that could give the establishment the edge in winning the overall war on drugs.

Going Opioid-Free Can be Expensive

The new drug is not without an inordinate price tag however, running at $6,000 for only one six-month course of treatment.  Regardless of whether or not medical insurance will be covering any portion of that cost that is still a astronomically high figure, especially to the average drug user.  Without the help of family and insurance most will not have access to this kind of high-end treatment.  Along with expensive treatments like this the research and scientific community must find a way to find new innovations that grant access to a broader array of addicted individuals regardless of socioeconomic status.

It is also of the utmost importance not to lose sight of the issue that addiction is a complex multifaceted disease that has many underlying components.  If the desire and motivation of the individual is not there then it is unlikely that any treatment will work in the long run.  Treatment and recovery must address the mind, body and spirit approach in order to have the best chances of success.  Regular counseling sessions and peer support go a long way by themselves.  If scientific discoveries can be realistically incorporated into a regimen that encompasses all these factors than chances at recovery improve significantly.


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