The federal government’s fight to stop prescription drug abuse and addiction recently got a boost when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Probuphine, an implant to treat drug-withdrawal symptoms.
With thousands of people dying each year as a result of prescription opioid overdoses and heroin overdoses, medical experts have sought new ways to provide treatment to addicts who are trying to wean themselves off powerful narcotics. The Obama Administration has made it a policy to ensure that people who need anti-addiction drugs can get access to them. The problem, however, is that even these drugs, which are designed to minimize the patient’s cravings for opioids and other painkillers, can be overused and abused.
For several months, the FDA has reviewed clinical trial data on Probuphine to make sure that the device is safe for use. U.S. health officials also wanted to be certain that the implant device would be effective at treating opioid dependency.
The Serious Drug Abuse Problem in the United States
The statistics on prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse in the U.S. are staggering. Federal data indicates that approximately two million Americans had some kind of dependency on prescription painkillers in 2014.
To put these numbers in perspective, the United States has just five percent of the world’s population, but that relatively small amount of people actually consume 80 percent of opioids produced globally, according to the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians.
Treating Drug Addiction with Probuphine
Buprenorphine is usually administered in pill form or via a dissolvable film that is placed under the patient’s tongue. The problem is that taking the anti-addiction medication in this way grants too much leeway to the patient, who can potentially take too little, or too much, of the anti-addiction drug.
Probuphine, the implant device used to administer buprenorphine, typically remains in the patient’s arm for a period of six months. At the end of that time period, the patient’s symptoms and drug addiction are reevaluated by trained medical professionals.
Health Officials in Favor of Buprenorphine Implant Device
Robert M. Califf, the commissioner of the FDA, recently issued a statement in favor of the new approach to treating prescription painkiller addiction. Califf noted that the drug addiction and abuse problem in the United States has gotten worse than ever and has “taken a devastating toll on American families.” As a result, said Califf, federal officials need to do everything possible to curtail abuse of narcotics, including the use of “new, innovative treatment options” that give patients greater control over their drug addiction issues.
For additional information, read the CNN.com article, “FDA Approves Device to Wean Addicts off Heroin.”
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