Probuphine: Another attempt to minimize buprenorphine abuse

Summary and Analysis…

This is a promotional piece concerning a recently approved physical implant used to deliver buprenorphine for six months at a time. It represents another attempt to minimize abuse of buprenorphine. The license for the implant is held by Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, a company which secretly funded a marketing program for buprenorphine through a recently established non-profit. This is mentioned only because it is important for policymakers and consumers to know when they are viewing marketing materials and when they are viewing unbiased scientific results.

It is also worth noting that in the initial trial for the buprenorphine implant, it performed just 12% better than a placebo implant. See Deciphering Drug Study Tricks-of-theTrade for some background on how to evaluate drug-company sponsored research.

Excerpted from The Recovery Village

Probuphine is an implant that delivers a constant dose of buprenorphine to people living with opioid use disorders. Four of the one-inch rods are inserted into the inside of the upper arm by a trained physician during an outpatient visit, and they last six months.

It is the first implant approved by the FDA to treat addiction to opioids, but buprenorphine itself is not a new drug; it has been approved to treat opioid dependence since October 2002. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it acts on the same receptors in the brain as opioids do, but does not produce the same high or side effects. In addition, it creates a “ceiling effect,” so that you don’t crave getting high to the same extreme.