JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As the opioid crisis sweeps the nation, doctors are trying to come up with new ways to fight it, including turning to a new method that could break the cycle of addiction.
Currently, the best treatment out there for addicts are buprenorphine tablets, which are prescribed to take once daily.
According to Dr. Amit Vijapura, only about 20 percent of patients who are dealing with an opioid addiction are receiving treatment. He says the reason why this percentage is so low is because many doctors don’t want to prescribe the tablets over the worry about whether or not the patient will abuse the medication rather than take it as prescribed.
As a result, the FDA committee has recommended a once-a-month injectable shot of buprenorphine, something that Vijapura is pushing for instead of the tablet form. It must be administered by a nurse or doctor.
“A lot of physicians are afraid of prescribing it, but if it's injection, then there’s no issues about somebody going out on the streets or buying it or selling it," Vijapura said. "As a physician, I feel confident that I have the injection, patient got the treatment and they’re going to be ok for the next 30 days”
Vijapura's patient, Sarah Wilson, was part of a clinical trial for the injection.
Wilson said she was hit by a drunk driver and suffered a spinal injury in 2008. She was prescribed hydrocodone for the pain, but soon became addicted.
"It was when I didn't have them that I would have problems," she recalled. "I would spike a fever, I would get nauseous, I would be sick."
Wilson, a mother of four, says Vijapura recommended her for the clinical trial of the injection to see if it would help her with her addiction.
"Within 24 hours, I had no withdrawal symptoms... I had no anything," she said.
The injection only takes two minutes.
"This is big news because we think that injectable buprenorphine is going to help so many more patients," he said.
Dr. Vijapura says the injection could be approved by the FDA by the end of the month.