Canada adopts a new implant to treat opioid addiction

In Canada, people who are addicted to opioids will now be able to get an implant, a device as small as a match with a synthetic substitute buprenorphine to combat their addiction.

Canadians with opioid addiction may now be eligible for an implant that provides a low dose of continuous medication at 8 mg / d for a period of six months to a year, according to the Canadian Press agency, which reported the news on March 3, relayed by the National Post.

The new device involves inserting into the patient’s arm “sticks” the size of matches. They contain buprenorphine (Suboxone), a substance used for the substitution treatment of opioid dependence, delivered in small amounts each day. The main advantage of the implant is that it eliminates the daily intake of Suboxone tablets. A habit that can be complicated for drug addicts struggling at the same time against poverty, housing problems or unemployment. The device also avoids the risk of abuse of treatment, and relieves the authorities and doctors of the necessary supervision around of the traditional treatment.

The device was approved by Health Canada in April 2018, two years after the authorization in the United States. It is marketed under the Probuphine brand of Montreal-based Therapeutic Knight, and is the first implant of its kind. For Dr. Seonaid Nolan, a researcher at the BC Substance Use Center and a drug addiction physician at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, this is a viable alternative for addicts coming out of prisons or long stays in the hospital.

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Because when they leave, their tolerance to illicit opioids is significantly increased, which increases their risk of overdose. “It is very important to have a number of treatment options because there is no single solution to reverse the opioid crisis,” she told Canadian Press.

The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH), which reviews all drugs approved by Health Canada, recommends in a release to the drug plans to reimburse the cost of the implant to stabilized patients, with a maximum of 8 mg / day of buprenorphine. The president of Knight Therapeutics, Samira Sakhia, assures that its cost should be $ 1,495, the equivalent of six months of treatment with Suboxone.

To date, only one patient has received the device in Canada, says Samira Sakhia: “It’s a complicated product because it’s an implant and we try to do everything in our power to make sure that doctors are trained and competent, and we strive to get a refund, because that will facilitate access.”

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Shakes Gilles

Editor of The Talking Democrat. He enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.