Buprenorphine Wafer: A New Development

How is the wafer different from Suboxone Films?

While we already have multiple meds available for treating opioid addiction, there will soon be a new one. Currently, we have dissolving films, tablets, injections and implants. So, how is the buprenorphine wafer different?

It’s all about speed.

Unfortunately, misuse of addiction treatment medications used in MAT is a problem. Therefore, drug makers are working hard to find new ways to stop this abuse of treatment meds. A new and novel approach is the fast dissolving buprenorphine wafer. Instead of taking minutes, this new med may dissolve in less than a minute. It is possible that it will melt away even faster, maybe even just seconds.

How does this help?

In many clinics, patients take their Suboxone or Subutex while being observed. They put the meds under their tongue and wait. Unfortunately, some patients sneak these tablets or films out of their mouth to misuse later. It is possible that an opioid addict could try to inject these tablets. Because they were already in their mouth, this practice can lead to serious infections. One issue is that the patient has more opportunity to sneak the tablets out of their mouth when it takes longer for them to dissolve.

The fast dissolving buprenorphine wafer.

If the wafer can dissolve in just a few seconds, there is far less opportunity for the patient to divert the meds out of their mouth. The wafer will quickly dissolve and the meds safely in the patient’s system.

Are better alternatives available?

One possible solution that is already being used is the subcutaneous buprenorphine injection, also known as Sublocade. A patient who gets this shot cannot easily divert their medication. It may be a far superior solution. Yet, there are still many cases where sublingual meds are the best choice.

Are there any major problems with the buprenorphine wafer?

One serious issue is that Purdue Pharma will likely be manufacturing the wafer. Many people consider Purdue to have a large part of the responsibility in sparking the current opioid crisis. They may find it offensive that this company is now making addiction treatment meds. Nevertheless, we will have to wait and see if there is a significant advantage to this new drug over what is currently available.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Yeah… The whole thing about Purdue owning the patent for this wafer form of Buprenorphine should concern just about everyone personally affected by the opiod crisis. We are talking about the company who single handedly kick started this crisis we are now facing and who in 2017 reported revenues of 35 billion dollars. Those revenues I’m confident in stating are in no small part due to its aggressive marketing of the opiod painkillers it mass produces and has made the family who owns Purdue one of the richest families in the country. So, after profiting in the numbers a small country’s annual GDP brings in being the dope man, Purdue stands to do the same thing cleaning up the very mess they created?! No way these crooks should ever be able to pocket a single cent from this new form of Beprenorphine. Profits should be directly funneled to agencies and treatment facilities and their subsidiaries around the country. This family even having the audacity to think for a second of lining their pockets marketing a drug which is to aid in the cleaning up of the mess caused by it’s opiods makes my blood boil.

    1. I think that many people would agree with you. If the drug is truly innovative, maybe the right thing to do would be to make it public domain so generic manufacturers can use it right away.

      In the case of smoking, tobacco lawsuit settlements are funding some excellent programs, yet the best medical care with drugs such as Zyban and Chantix is not covered under these programs. Doctors are expected to work the system to get patients prior authorizations and prescribing these meds in non-standard ways, incurring additional risk for themselves because, somehow, the billions in settlement money covers six weeks of classes where a person can blow into a carbon monoxide measuring device and get free patches and gum, but not a single dollar goes towards effective medical treatment. And, doctors continue to get blamed for not educating patients to not use a product that is regulated by the FDA, yet has no benefits whatsoever and is only harmful to users. Make the manufacture of tobacco products illegal. Problem solved.

      If Purdue and other companies end up funding recovery efforts through settlements, I hope that we do not only see funding for rehab programs already shown to be minimally effective. Rather than paying for horse therapy, massages, art therapy, groups and individual therapy by minimally credentialed staff, I hope that proven medical therapy is also made significantly more accessible. For example, for a rehab to qualify for funding, they should be required to fully educate patients on the benefits of naltrexone for treating alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder and a long-term prescription for the affordable tablets or the costly injection for at least a six month period should be offered. You would be surprised at how few rehab administrators/owners know anything about naltrexone and care about discussing it or learning more about it. Also, how about requiring therapy by properly credentialed therapists in rehab, such as a psychiatrist or doctor of psychology who is credentialed in addiction treatment? Borden Cottage, run by Harvard’s McLean Hospital, in Camden, Maine, provides daily psychiatric sessions. The cost of the program is not that much more than most rehab programs that offer no therapy by an actual doctor of psychiatry or psychology.

      Thank you for your comment on this article.

  2. The concerns that you have highlighted are actually frighteningly accurate. Sometimes I find myself believing that if Uncle Sam is channeling funds to something that it will actually produce anything close to what it’s supposed to… And then I wake up. These are complex issues that are going to require a generation of solutions from experts and the public alike because clearly, the model that has been in place is not working. I enjoyed your likening of current treatment of addiction to snake oil treatments. The sad thing is that most people, even the most seasoned of individuals who are recovering from addiction, will not be able to see you are much closer to the truth with that likening in current addiction treatment than you are to the myth.

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