Buprenorphine is an effective treatment for opioid dependence but daily dosing may impact negatively on adherence.
Researchers from the United States conducted a double-blind randomised trial to explore if a buprenorphine implant is as effective as daily sublingual buprenorphine in clinically stable patients.
Among 177 patients, more of those assigned to the implant tested negative in urine tests for opioids during at least four of the six months of the study compared with those assigned to sublingual therapy (96.4% vs 87.6%). The rate of sustained abstinence was also higher at the end of the study in the implant group at 85.7%, compared with 71.9% in the sublingual-therapy group.
Reporting in JAMA (online, 19 July 2016)
, the researchers say the results indicate that buprenophine implants are non-inferior to sublingual therapy in stable patients, but further research is needed to confirm the findings in broader populations.
 Rosenthal RN, Lofwall MR, Kim S et al. Effect of buprenorphine implants on illicit opioid use among abstinent adults with opioid dependence treated with sublingual buprenorphine. JAMA 2016;316:282–290. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.9382