Probuphine is the brand name of a buprenorphine implant used as part of a treatment program for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist that interacts with opioid receptors in the brain and reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms of full opioids. More common treatments that contain buprenorphine as an active ingredient, such as Subutex and Suboxone, are taken orally in tablet or film form.
Approved by the FDA in 2016, Probuphine, comes in the form of four, one-inch rods that are inserted under the arm of a patient. Small doses of buprenorphine are then released at steady intervals for a six-month period. Only trained and certified healthcare providers can administer Probuphine and you must be registered in a Probuphine program and carry an I.D. Card. One reason for the I.D. is so, if you are in a medical emergency, the doctor treating you knows you are on buprenorphine and can administer pain medication appropriately.
In order to be eligible for Probuphine, you must already have achieved and sustained clinical stability while and currently on low-to-moderate doses of buprenorphine.
What are the pros?
- There is no need to worry about forgetting to take your medication.
- There is almost no chance that you can overdose or use it illicitly.
- There is no risk of accidental use by children.
- It cannot be stolen from you and be abused by others
What are the cons?
- Like any medication, there are risks and side effects. According to the manufacturer’s website the implant procedure produces the risk of infection, nerve damage or blood clots. Some common side effects include nausea, back pain, headaches, low blood pressure and depression. Consult your physician about these and other risks or side effects.
- The cost is significantly higher than Suboxone or Subutex. Check to see if your insurance covers it.
- Some patients are under the impression that it is a six-month cure and generally neglect other aspects of their treatment. Probuphine should be only part of a complete Medication Assisted Treatment. In fact, the six-month implant is a one-time only usage. When the six months are up, you should return to taking other forms of buprenorphine while you continue your treatment program.
Is Probuphine for me?
Probuphine has proven to be effective, but only you can ultimately decide whether Probuphine is the appropriate medication for you during your recovery. Consult your physician and your treatment counselors. They will help you weigh the pros and cons to arrive at the right decision for your treatment.