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New Options for Treating Opioid Addiction

New Options for Treating Opioid Addiction

The quest for improved outcomes in the treatment of opioid addiction is accelerating on several fronts. Buprenorphine is widely used for the treatment of opioid dependence. Studies have shown that it’s an effective means to reduce opioid cravings and help prevent withdrawal symptoms. However, there is still potential for diversion and/or abuse of these drugs. As a result, researchers are working to develop new modes of administration to reduce these risks. Simultaneously, work is underway on other modalities of treatment, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), as potential alternative therapies for treating opioid addiction. Medication Advances In June 2014, the FDA approved the first buprenorphine and naloxone buccal film that is indicated for the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence. Created by BioDelivery Sciences International, the product works differently from existing sublingual film formulations of buprenorphine and naloxone. The new product features buccal film that uses a proprietary muco-adhesive technology in the form of a thin film that sticks to the inside of the cheek and dissolves minutes after placement. Clinical studies suggest this formulation provides twice the bioavailability of buprenorphine when compared with sublingual formulations. This helps halve the dose of drug required and, thus, potentially cuts the risk of abuse and diversion. A separate novel approach to the delivery of buprenorphine involves a subdermal implant formulation for the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence. The experimental implant is designed to deliver continuous, around-the-clock blood levels of buprenorphine for 6 months following a single treatment. The subdermal implant is made from a mixture of ethylene-vinyl acetate and a drug substance that is released at a slow and steady rate. It...
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