Doctors say they are finding it challenging to add the newly approved addiction treatment medicine Probuphine to their practice, WBEZ reports.
They say they have to learn how to implant the drug in the upper arm of patients.
They must also deal with new requirements. Despite the obstacles, some doctors say they welcome the new treatment.
In May the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Probuphine, an implant that contains the opioid addiction treatment buprenorphine. The drug has been available inoral form for 14 years.
Probuphine consists of four small stick-like implants that are inserted in the upper arm, during a doctor’s visit that typically lasts less than 15 minutes. The implant remains in the arm for six months, and is removed by the doctor. It is available only by prescription. The implants are designed to provide a constant, low-level dose of buprenorphine in patients who are already stable on low-to-moderate doses of other forms of buprenorphine.
Doctors must be trained and tested before they are allowed to implant or prescribe Probuphine. If doctors don’t implant the drug themselves, they must coordinate with another doctor who is trained to perform the procedure.
Questions remain about billing, reimbursement and pre-authorizations for Probuphine. Doctors currently purchase Probuphine kits for almost $5,000, and then bill patients or insurance companies for them.