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(Reuters) — The first-ever implant to fight addiction to opioids, a class of drugs that includes prescription painkillers and heroin, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday.
The matchstick-sized implant, developed by Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. and privately owned Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, is by design less susceptible to abuse or the illicit resale that plagues existing oral therapies.
Currently, two drugs are predominantly used to treat opioid addiction — methadone, which is dispensed only in government-endorsed clinics, and the less-addictive buprenorphine, which exists as a pill or strip of film.
The implant administers buprenorphine for up to six months after users have been stabilized on the oral form of the drug.
“I intend to make this the most successful implant that’s ever been marketed … and I think it’s absolutely possible given the unmet need,” Braeburn CEO Behshad Sheldon said in an interview ahead of the FDA decision.
Fewer than half of the estimated 2.2 million Americans who need treatment for opioid abuse are receiving help, according to the U.S. Centers for Human and Health Services.
Authorities investigating the death of singer Prince found prescription opioid medication on him, sections of the media had reported. The music legend died one day before he was scheduled to meet a doctor who specializes in addiction treatment, the doctor’s lawyer revealed earlier this month.
Braeburn declined to forecast the…