Buprenorphine Implant to Treat Opioid Addiction Approved by FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Probuphine, an implant that contains the opioid addiction treatment buprenorphine. The drug has been available in oral form for 14 years, CNBC reports.

Probuphine consists of four small stick-like implants that are inserted in the upper arm, during a doctor’s visit that typically lasts less than 15 minutes. The implant remains in the arm for six months, and is removed by the doctor, the article notes. It will be available only by prescription.

The implants are designed to provide a constant, low-level dose of buprenorphine in patients who are already stable on low-to-moderate doses of other forms of buprenorphine. Probuphine is designed to be part of a complete treatment program, according to the FDA.

Full story of buprenorphine for opioid addiction treatment at drugfree.org

Helping People Addicted to Opioids Part of Re-election Strategy of Some Republicans

Some Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate are basing part of their re-election strategies on bills aimed at helping people addicted to opioids, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. House, after overwhelmingly approving 18 bills last week aimed at addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, will work with the Senate to craft compromise legislation.

The bills include provisions for prescription drug monitoring programs and assistance to states that want to expand the availability of the opioid overdose drug naloxone. House Republicans in difficult re-election races have attached their names to some of the bills, the article notes.

Full story of helping opioid addiction and re-election strategy at drugfree.org

Addiction Experts Battle Stigma Attached to Medication-Assisted Treatment

Opioid addiction treatment experts say although the evidence is clear that medication-assisted treatment is the best way to tackle the nation’s opioid epidemic, there is still a stigma attached to using these medications.

Only a small percentage of the more than 4 million people who abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the United States use one of these medications, methadone or buprenorphine, NPR reports. These treatments have been proven to reduce relapses and overdoses, the article notes.

While limited availability of these treatments is an issue, stigma around the use of addiction medications also prevents some people from using them, experts say.

Full story of medication-assisted treatment to tackle the opioid epidemic at drugfree.org

In Many Countries, Difficulty in Accessing Opioid Painkillers Causes Suffering

As the United States tackles the challenge of opioid painkiller addiction, people in many parts of the world are suffering from pain because doctors are reluctant to prescribe opioids.

Opioids are restricted, and often unavailable, in most poor and middle-incomes countries, even for patients with AIDS, terminal cancer or serious war wounds, according to The New York Times.

Many doctors in Russia, India and Mexico are fearful they could be prosecuted or subject to other legal problems if they prescribe opioids, the article notes.

Health officials in Kenya recently authorized the production of morphine after it was revealed that the painkiller was only available in seven of the nation’s 250 public hospitals. The advocacy group Human Rights Watch reported earlier this year that only a small percentage of doctors in Morocco are allowed to prescribe opioid painkillers. The country’s law on controlled substances identifies opioids as poisons.

Full story of countries access to opioid painkillers at drugfree.org

Programs That Manage Opioid Prescriptions Save Lives and Protect Patients: Expert

Drug management programs that require at-risk individuals to use designated pharmacies or physicians for opioid prescriptions can protect patients from using harmful amounts of opioids while ensuring they still receive appropriate amounts of pain medication, according to the lead author of a new report on the programs.

Through these patient review and restriction (PRR) programs, insurers assign patients who are at risk for drug abuse to pre-designated pharmacies and prescribers to obtain these drugs. Designated medical providers can then better coordinate patient care and prevent inappropriate access to medications that are susceptible to abuse.

“Our indicators suggest these programs are protecting patients, saving lives and reducing overall healthcare costs,” said Jennifer Welch, MPH, an officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts, who led a review of state Medicaid drug management programs. She spoke about her findings at the recent Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit.

Full story of programs that manage opioid prescriptions at drugfree.org