What is it? This is really an extension of older technology, but new materials are opening up new applications to enable sustained release over long periods of time. There are many applications to slow-release technology, but one prominent one is for addiction treatment and prevention.
Why is it groundbreaking? All you have to do is follow the news, from your local crime report to celebrities who continuously get in trouble with the law for failing to remain drug-free. Part of the problem is that drugs that begin as painkillers are too easily abused and become gateways to illegal drugs like heroin. The solution? Better drug delivery for painkillers that get the right amount into the system to do the job, but avoid user temptation for abuse. Opioid addicts--including abusers of prescription drugs such as OxyContin--do not get a chance to backslide because they do not have to think about taking the treatment every day.
Who's working on it:
- A drug called Vivitrol has received separate FDA approvals to treat alcohol and opioid addictions through drug-delivery technology by Alkermes called Medisorb, which enables sustained releases over long periods of time. The company says the technology allows us it to encapsulate small molecules, peptides and proteins in microspheres made of biodegradable polymers with extended-release profiles lasting from days to months. Report
- Titan Pharmaceuticals' implanted drug-delivery device helped people fight addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers better than a placebo, a company-funded study found. Study participants who used Titan's Probuphine implant had significantly less illicit opioid use, experienced fewer symptoms of withdrawal and craving, stayed in treatment longer and had greater overall improvement. Report