US approves monthly injection for opioid addiction

FILE - This Oct. 14, 2015 file photo shows the Food and Drug Administration campus in Silver Spring, Md. On Thursday, July 6, 2017, Endo International PLC, the maker of painkiller Opana ER, said it will pull the extended-release opioid drug off the market, a month after being urged to do so by U.S. regulators because of abuse. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. health officials have approved the first injectable form of the leading medication to treat patients recovering from addiction to heroin, prescription painkillers and other opioids.

The monthly injection has the potential to reduce dangerous relapses that occur when patients stop taking their daily medication. But that benefit has not yet been established.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the injectable drug from Indivior for adults with opioid use disorder who are already on stable doses of the addiction medication.

The approval Thursday comes amid the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history. More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, mostly from opioids.

Indivior already sells the drug in medicated strips that dissolve under the tongue. Patients take the medication daily to control opioid withdrawal symptoms.