Local patients among first in U.S. to receive new opioid addiction implant

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The FDA has just recently approved a new treatment to help people battling with opiate addiction. (WPVI)

Last month, the FDA approved a new treatment to help people battling with opioid addiction, specifically for people in long-term recovery programs.

Some in our area were the first to receive it.

Katie Burlingame of Radnor, Delaware County has fought addiction for a long time, but she's proud of her accomplishment.

"In August, I'll be 10 years clean off any kind of opiates," she says, beaming.

Despite her success, it's still a battle and she relies on medication to fight cravings.

She had been taking daily tablets or a medication that goes under the tongue.

But now she's trying a long-term option called Probuphine.

Dr. Michael Frost of Frost Medical Group says tiny rods are inserted under the arm.

They deliver the drug for 6 months.

"The medication comes out at a steady rate," say Dr. Frost.

The rods are placed through a tiny incision, using a local anesthetic.

"I don't feel anything," she notes. "I can feel him moving my arm back and forth."

"In 6 months time, we'll remove it," says Dr. Frost.

And another set will go in her *other arm.

Katie says she initially got hooked on painkillers, and then heroin, following the lead of the crowd she spent time with.

"Everybody was doing it and I followed along," she recalls.

Her highs soon became miserable lows.

"Trying to get money, selling things for money, so, I mean stealing for money. That's where I got into a lot of trouble," she says.

Katie was caught, and sent to rehab by Montgomery County Drug Court.

Since then, she's turned life around, and now manages a recovery house, helping others break their addictions.

"My life is recovery 24/7!" she says.

"I love my life in recovery," she adds.

Katie thinks Probuphine will let her focus more on others and also help dispel the fear addicts often have about new treatments.

"Is this going to work? Am I going to feel the same way? I'd rather stick with the devil I know than the ones I don't," says Dr. Frost.

"All done," he says.

"Yay, that was easy," she chimes in.

Dr. Frost and Katie agree there's an acute need for more addiction treatments.

"I feel like on a daily basis, I hear of someone dying," says Katie of the Main Line, where she lives.

"I've gotten calls from Wisconsin, I've gotten calls from New Jersey, people who are very, very interested," says Dr. Frost of inquiries about Probuphine.

He says 2400 doctors will be trained on the drug soon, many to administer it, but others just to know whether it might help their patients.

Training sessions for Philadelphia doctors will be held this weekend - for information, click here.
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