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Opiate Implant Shows Success

Doctor Inserts Opiate ImplantTitan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have announced positive results from its phase III placebo clinical study of Probuphine, in determining the safety of it’s drug in treating opioid dependence.

Probuphine is not a full opiate, it is a Suboxone.  The patient only makes one decision every six months, greatly reducing the chance of non- compliance with the treatment program and therefore producing better results.

The current study involved 163 adults between the ages of 18 and 65 diagnosed as opioid-dependent between 2007 and 2008.  Four buprenorphine delivery devices were implanted under the skin of one arm in 108 patients. Each device was set to slowly release 80 milligrams of medication. The remaining 55 patients received implants without any drug delivery. None of the patients received buprenorphine by the standard oral delivery route.

Urine samples taken during the 16 weeks of treatment revealed that patients given buprenorphine via implants were far less likely to test positive for illicit opioid use than the others.

About 40 percent of the urine samples taken from the implant group tested negative for illegal drug use, compared with about 28 percent of the placebo group.  The study also showed that about two-thirds of those on the implant followed through their treatment program for the full six months, while only about 31 percent of those getting no medication did so.

Here’s what Dr. John Mariani, director of the substance treatment and research service at New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University in New York City had to say:

“… The vast majority of patients I treat like the effect of oral buprenorphine and they don’t tend to stop taking it, because then they start to experience withdrawal,” he told HealthDay News.

As for the implant: “Although it’s not the most invasive procedure to have, it is a surgical approach and there’s always the risk of infection, and then scarring if and when it has to be removed,” he said. “And you can’t individualize the dose, which is very easy to do with the oral drug.”

As a recovering opiate addict, I tend to agree with Dr. Mariani.  Many do not realize that each patient  needs an individual approach to treatment.  No two people respond exactly the same to Buprenorphine treatment so a fixed amount may leave some patients incorrectly medicated in the initial,  and in my experience, most important phase of treatment.

On the other hand, I can see that this new delivery method could be useful in cases where the patient has repeated difficulty adhering to the program.  Probuphine could that situation a lot of justice and almost assure that the patient will not relapse.

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