WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal health officials have approved an innovative new option for Americans addicted to heroin and painkillers: a drug-oozing implant that curbs craving and withdrawal symptoms for six months at a time.
The first-of-a-kind device, Probuphine, arrives as communities across the U.S. grapple with a wave of addiction tied to opioids, highly-addictive drugs that include legal medications like OxyContin and illegal narcotics like heroin.
The implant is essentially a new delivery system for the drug buprenorphine, which has long been used to treat opioid addiction. But its implantable form could help patients avoid relapses that can occur if they miss a dose of medication.
More than 2.5 million Americans are addicted to opioids, according to federal estimates. But less than half are receiving medication-based treatment to help control the problem.