Injecting people buprenorphine

Under the skin: new depot syringe for substitution treatment

The Buvidal depot syringe, the first long-acting buprenorphine preparation for substitution treatment, has been on the market since the beginning of February. Depending on the dosage, the agent is injected under the skin once a week or monthly; the active ingredient is released continuously.

This opens up new possibilities in treatment and creates freedom for patients. If the daily visits to the doctor's office are omitted, it becomes easier, for example, to adhere to regular working hours.

This is especially true for patients in rural areas who have previously had to travel long distances to their doctor's practice and thus spend a lot of time. Travel and generally longer absences are also made easier.

Dirk Schäffer, drug advisor at Deutsche Aidshilfe, sees the possibility of prescribing a buprenorphine depot injection with a duration of up to four weeks as positive.

The buprenorphine depot syringe facilitates substitution treatment in detention

"In particular for the penal system, where the high expenditure, low human resources and the risk of abuse and black market risk are repeatedly cited as reasons for refusing substitution for prisoners, a depot injection could be the method of choice," says Schäffer.

It remains to be seen, however, whether depot preparations can reduce the withdrawal symptoms described again and again by patients when given daily.

One problem: Less practical contact means lower remuneration

According to Dirk Schäffer, doctors report that the drug has already been successfully prescribed. However, since contact between doctor and patient is only required once a week or a month and is remunerated, i.e. financial losses threatened, it remains to be seen whether larger amounts of depot preparations will be prescribed.

"Should the problem of financing become even clearer, it would be the task of the umbrella associations to strive for a new accounting number," said Schäffer.

Only healthcare professionals can administer Buvidal

The preparation with the trade name Buvidal is used in the form of pre-filled syringes. The injection is given under the skin, in the areas of the buttocks, thighs, stomach or upper arm.

The allocation may only be carried out by medical specialists, so substitutes are not allowed to do it themselves, either in the practice or at home.

Patients who have previously taken buprenorphine in tablet form can be switched directly to the long-acting preparation - first to the weekly and then to the monthly dose.

Anyone who has never taken buprenorphine should test its tolerance with a weekly dose before using it for the first time.