As the drug epidemic continues to ravage the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the injectable form of a leading medication for treating moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder (OUD). The FDA on Nov. 30, 2017, allowed use of Sublocade, the first once-a-month injectable buprenorphine drug, for adult patients receiving a stable dose of buprenorphine product for a minimum of seven days.
Sublocade, a new treatment alternative for patients recovering from addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids, has an edge over other forms of buprenorphine. Being a once in a month shot, it can relieve the patient from taking buprenorphine medication daily, thereby ensuring better medical adherence. Buprenorphine is currently used for treating opioid dependency as a part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program.
The FDA has expressed its commitment to allow people with opioid problems access to better treatment approaches. “Everyone who seeks treatment for opioid use disorder deserves the opportunity to be offered the treatment best suited to the needs of each individual patient, in combination with counseling and psychosocial support, as part of a comprehensive recovery plan,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
Sublocade is a drug-device combination of buprenorphine and the Atrigel Delivery System, which comes in a pre-filled syringe. The patient has to receive the combination as an injection subcutaneously (under the skin) once a month from a health care professional. The agency approved Sublocade after two clinical studies established the medication’s safety and efficacy.
Dealing with opioid addiction
FDA’s ongoing efforts to control the opioid crisis in the country primarily focus on ensuring better access to prevention and providing effective treatment and recovery services, including MAT that is a therapeutic approach to treat patients with OUD. Experts recommend MAT with buprenorphine as an effective treatment to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), patients receiving MAT for OUD had 50 percent less risk of dying from all causes.
Experts feel that doctors prescribing opioid painkillers allegedly for profit have aggravated the ongoing crisis devastating the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sales of prescription opioids in the country jumped almost four times between 1999 and 2014. Shockingly, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids every day.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported an OUD in an estimated 2.1 million people aged 12 or older in 2016. OUD is characterized by a strong desire to use opioid drugs. OUD patients also tend to experience strong withdrawal symptoms in abstinence from the drug. However, opioid addiction is treatable with timely interventions. If you have a loved one struggling with opioid addiction, seek professional help immediately at a reputed rehab center.
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