Last week, the FDA announced approval of a once-a-month drug, Sublocade, for individuals with an opioid use disorder who need drug-assisted treatment to get and stay clean.
For people suffering from the opiate-related disorders, there are just a few options for drug-related therapy to help them reduce cravings and stay clean. Suboxone and methadone have been the most available forms, but each has its drawbacks, including the fact that methadone is regulated in a way that means it must usually be dispensed just a dosage at a time. Missing a dosage can cause awful withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Even something as simple as inclement weather such as snow can make it difficult for drug treatment clients to get the medication they need.
Suboxone has become popular because it has fewer drawbacks, with one of the main complaints being that a person prescribed the pill must be consistent with its dosage, taking it once a day, at the same time every day. This is why Sublocade, just approved by the FDA last week, offers hope to some addiction recovery professionals. It can help fill a treatment void for those who need it.
Why a Monthly Injection to Combat Addiction Cravings?
While not seen as a perfect drug, Sublocade can function as a new tool in the box for addiction professionals and medical providers to fight addiction. Patients with substance abuse disorders – as well as mental health disorders – may have difficulty with medication compliance for a number of reasons. People may think that they are “cured” or simply be too “busy” or overwhelmed in life to remember to take their pills like clockwork. And while it often goes unmentioned, this can lead to relapse when cravings set in.
Suboxone is a prescribed medicine that when used as directed can block early, mild withdrawal symptoms while blocking opiate receptors, which relieves painful opiate withdrawal symptoms. When a person misses a dose, however, they may get “sick” and experience immediate withdrawal symptoms. Some people don’t experience these symptoms immediately, but for others, the symptoms may be severe.
Sublocade is the first once-monthly injectable buprenorphine product for the treatment of moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder (OUD) in adult patients. Prior to using the monthly dosage, the patient must have been on the regular Suboxone drug for 7 days without any ill effects.
Medication-assisted treatment does its job, but as the FDA has warned, it is most effective when used with other treatment modes, such as therapy and 12-step programs.
Daily Suboxone treatment, also known as buprenorphine, is usually taken as a tablet or film that dissolves in the mouth. It is also available as an implant under the brand name Probuphine.