Sweden-based Camurus has launched Buvidal, an advance in opioid dependence treatment, to the UK market.

The drug is available in weekly and monthly formulations and it is an injectable solution that slowly releases buprenorphine into the body. The product gained European Commission (EC) approval in November and it is the first long-acting treatment for opioid dependence in the EU.

“We are pleased that Buvidal is now available in the UK, giving people with opioid dependence access to an innovative long-acting treatment with demonstrated improved treatment outcomes,” said Dr Fredrik Tiberg, President and CEO of Camurus. “With flexible weekly and monthly dosing administered by healthcare professionals, Buvidal may also reduce the burden and risks of current daily medications, including supervised dosing, diversion, misuse, and exposure to children.”

Once injected, the lipid-based solution transforms into a gel-like depot that slowly biodegrades over time, releasing the buprenorphine. Buprenorphine blocks the drug-liking effect of opioids in the brain and reduces withdrawal, craving and the use of illicit opioids.

“Patients with opioid dependence are in great need of new and more effective medications that can improve treatment outcomes and quality of life,” says Professor Sir John Strang, Director of the National Addiction Centre, King’s College, London. “New forms of buprenorphine, given as weekly and monthly subcutaneous depot injections, could become a game-changer in opioid dependence treatment by improving adherence and reducing the burden, stigma and risks of daily treatment.

The drug is available for the treatment of adults and adolescents aged 16 years or over. It has an advantage in flexibility as it can be taken weekly as well as monthly and it can also be controlled to different parts of the body.

Buvidal has been studied in a comprehensive seven Phase 1-3 clinical trials study programme that confirmed the rapid, predictable and sustained release of buprenorphine over a week or month. The safety profile of the drug was also consistent with the known safety profile of sublingual buprenorphine, except for mild-to-moderate injection site reactions.

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