FDA To Decide On Implant Heralded As New Weapon Against Opioid Addiction, But Critics Are Balking At Price
The implant dispenses the drug buprenorphine for six months at a time. Benefits of the treatment could include cutting down on both relapses and the drug being sold illegally on the street.
Can A Pricey Implant To Treat Opioid Addiction Save Lives -- And Money?
The implant promises to treat opioid addiction without the hassle of a daily pill. And the company marketing the drug is so confident it’ll work, it’s planning to offer insurers a twist on a money-back guarantee: If the new device doesn’t save them money, they’ll get a refund. The implant, branded as Probuphine, relies on four tiny rods implanted under the skin to dispense the drug buprenorphine for six months at a time. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide on Friday whether to approve it. (Robbins, 5/25)
Could This Implant Be The New Weapon Against Opioid, Heroin Addiction?
Currently, buprenorphine for opioid dependence is available in the U.S. only in pill form and as a film that dissolves under the tongue. Both versions can be easily sold illegally, used by others and ingested accidentally by children. Experts say implants lessen those risks and make it easier for patients to stick to their buprenorphine regimen. Implants would also discourage relapses by making it harder for patients to discontinue usage when they want to get high, said Michael Sheehan, medical director at Operation PAR, a nonprofit drug treatment provider in the Bradenton, Florida, area. (Pugh, 5/24)
Kaiser Health News:
FDA Considering Pricey Implant As Treatment For Opioid Addiction
“Anything that might help people beat their opioid addiction is a good idea,” said Dr. Barbara Herbert, president of the Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine. But she said she also has reservations about this method of delivering treatment. The main one is price. The company says it will price the implants to be competitive with other injectable treatments used to battle opioid addiction, including a shot that costs about $1,000 a month. Buprenorphine pills, in comparison, typically cost $130 to $190 for a month’s supply. Herbert said a high price may force providers to turn patients away — or cut back on other services. “High profits in the middle of this epidemic are really unconscionable,” she said. (Bebinger, 5/25)
Meanwhile, in other news —
Kerry Urged To Pressure China To Do More To Curb Sale Of Deadly Fetanyl To U.S.
A US senator is calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to pressure the Chinese government to toughen its laws to stop the illicit export of the potent opioid fentanyl, which is now killing more Americans than heroin in many areas. (Armstrong, 5/24)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
In Center City, Faces Of The Opiate Addiction Crisis
The idea is to figure out the best ways to harness the city's limited resources. For the approach to work, it must address two very different homeless populations. The city has already had success reaching out to one group - the chronically homeless, whom I wrote about last week - by getting many long-term homeless people into supportive housing. But a second group, the newly homeless, is swelling, thanks to the opiate addiction crisis. (Newall, 5/25)