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Panel Recommends FDA Approve Implant To Treat Opiate Addiction

Dr. Alan Weiner MD

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Alan Weiner, MD

April 3, 2019

Opiate addiction impacts millions of people across the nation, many of whom are desperate to regain their sobriety. However, the severity of their withdrawal symptoms makes it nearly impossible for them to quit without suffering severe pain. A new opiate addiction implant treatment called probuphine was just heavily recommended to the FDA by a group of medical experts. They believe that it can help alleviate the symptoms of opiate addiction in a safe and humane manner.

Panel Recommends FDA Approve Implant To Treat Opiate Addiction

What Is Probuphine?

Probuphine is a skin implant developed by Titan as a method of treating opiate withdrawal symptoms. Essentially, the implant is placed under the skin where it slowly releases a small dosage of buprenorphine hydrochloride. It is designed to provide people like you with a round-the-clock dose of this important medicine.

While new treatments like this are being regularly created, this one has shown promise in multiple different clinical trials. There were two six-month double-blind trials that tested its effectiveness when compared to two other implants, one a placebo and the other Suboxone (another withdrawal treatment method).

The results of the studies were obvious: against the placebo, probuphine was shown to be exponentially more effective while it was shown to be about as effective as Suboxone when treating withdrawal symptoms. These results were published in two different journals: “The Journal Of The American Medical Association” and “Addiction.”

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Why Is It Being Recommended As An Opiate Treatment?

The biggest reason that these implants are being recommended is the way that they release a small, but steady, dose of buprenorphine into the bloodstream of the patient. This substance has been shown to lower the severity of withdrawal symptoms to a manageable level. Remember that the severity of opiate withdrawal may be fatal and decreasing these symptoms helps increase your chance of survival.

It also helps increase your chance of recovery success and lowers the risk of accidental ingestion by children or pets. Regular withdrawal medicine often comes in the form of a pill or dissolved film. If these are ingested by someone who doesn’t need them, it can easily lead to severe problems. These implants eliminate that risk by placing an easy-to-insert-and-remove tab under your skin.

In fact, it has been shown to take no more than 15-20 minutes to insert or remove. A typical treatment requires four rods to get implanted under the skin. These four rods will supply a steady and stable dose for up to six months. That long length of treatment is another reason why the panel voted 12-5 to suggest the FDA approve the medicine.

After all, many people may require opiate medication for a year or more. The long-lasting nature of these implants, combined with the steady nature of their medicine dispersal makes them a promising new treatment method.

Are There Any Other Similar Implants?

Probuphine is not the first type of opiate treatment implant available on the market. Naltrexone implants have been utilized for some time, although they are also currently without FDA approval. However, they are like probuphine implants, in that they utilize medicines that the FDA has already approved for use.

It, too, is implanted under the skin. This implant releases Naltrexone over a 6- to 12- week period and helps lower withdrawal symptom severity. There may still be some symptoms, but they shouldn’t be as devastating to the patient. Like other withdrawal medicines, it is designed to be taken for an extended period alongside other treatment methods, such as a 12-Step program or inpatient rehabilitation help.

If Approved, When Can I Get These Implants?

It’s always tricky to figure out when any kind of approved drug or treatment will be released to the general public. Generally speaking, once the FDA approves this implant, the company producing it will have to make a large volume available. And then it will have to be approved for use by insurance companies for use by the general public.

Once it has met those requirements, it may start being prescribed. However, there are likely to be some limitations. For one, your doctor will have to prescribe it to you believing it to be the best course of treatment. Beyond that hurtle, the price may be slightly higher than other treatments, due to its relatively new nature.

That said, there is no reason to be let down or bummed. The strong evidence provided by the panel and the FDAs willingness to listen is very promising. And if the implant is as powerful as suggested, doctors may flock to prescribe it as a treatment method, which may lower its price.

Learning More About This Breakthrough

Staying on top of the latest information regarding this treatment methods – and its potential approval by the FDA – is an important way to take control of your recovery. To learn more about this treatment and its future availability, please contact us at to learn more.

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