Could implants help solve the drug epidemic?

Could implants help opioid addiction?

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- One person died everyday in 2016 due to a drug related overdose -- doctors said a new treatment option called Probuphine, which is an implant, could help lower that number.

Probuphine was approved by the FDA in May of 2016 -- since then, recovering addicts across the nation have tried the implant. Doctors are calling the drug a "game changer". Four 1-inch rods are inserted into the persons upper arm -- over the course of 6 months, the Probuphine implant releases a drug called Buprenophine -- which latches on to opioid receptors in the brain. The drug helps to curb the cravings and withdrawal symptoms for opioid users -- helping to kick the habit for good.

Doctors in Maine were able to take a stab at it Thursday afternoon. Samuela Managis came from Van Buren to become certified in the procedure -- she says this type of treatment option would be a good fit for her rural community where many people have to travel for saboxone and other resources. "I'm actually really excited that I'm taking the training" Managis said. "This would give us another delivery system which would make it a lot more convenient for the patients".

However, not all doctors feel it is the true fix. "It's certainly another tool but I don't know if I would call it a game changer" Dr. Charles Pattavina said. Pattavina works at St. Josephs hospital in Bangor and is the president of Maine Medical Association. He works with those in recovery every day -- he said he has a few concerns about the drug.

"Because people will have six months of treatment and not have to do anything is that they might not come back for follow up or they might not come in for counseling" Pattavina said. "Counseling is a very important part of medication based treatment".
 
He said he is also concerned about the cost. "Right now it costs about 210 dollars a week from what I've seen -- where you can get saboxone and counseling for about 150 dollars a week" Pattavina said.
 
Though it might not be the final solution -- many feel its another step in the right direction. So far there are currently 5 locations in Maine that perform the insertion. The only people that would be eligible for the treatment are those that are taking eight-milligrams or less of suboxone.
 
 

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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