New Injectable Medication Now Available for Opioid Use Disorder

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Opioid use disorder, also known as opioid addiction, is a chronic disease that changes the brain. This disease is characterized by a problematic pattern of opioid use leading to significant impairment or distress. More than 2.5 million patients in the United States are diagnosed with opioid use disorder, making it important for health care providers to have a variety of different medication and treatment options – and we have a new one to add to the list.

Recently, Sublocade, a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) option for moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder, became available.  

What is Sublocade indicated for?

Sublocade is indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe opioid use disorder and should be used as part of a complete treatment program that includes counseling and psychosocial support.

Sublocade is available as a single dose prefilled syringe and should be injected by a healthcare professional. The recommended dose of Sublocade is 300 mg monthly for the 1st two months followed by a maintenance dose of 100 mg monthlyThe maintenance dose may be increased to 300 mg monthly for patients who tolerate the 100 mg dose, but do not demonstrate a satisfactory clinical response, as evidenced by selfreported opioid use or urine drug screens positive for opioid use.

Sublocade is dispensed by pharmacies to healthcare professionals only and should never be directly dispensed to patients.

Is there an advantage to using medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder?

According to the FDA, using MAT reduces opioid withdrawal symptoms and the desire to use opioids, without causing the cycle of highs of and lows with opioid misuse or abuse. At proper doses, buprenorphine-containing medications such as Sublocade also decreases the pleasurable effects of other opioids, making continued opioid abuse less attractive.

What side-effects are associated with Sublocade?

Side effects include constipation, nausea, vomiting, headache, drowsiness, injection site pain, itching, and abnormal liver function.

Sublocade also has a boxed warning, the strictest warning the FDA can give a medication in order to warn patients and health care providers of the possible serious risks associated with a medication. According to this boxed warning, Sublocade can cause occlusion, local tissue damage, thromboembolic events, including life-threatening pulmonary emboli, if administered intravenously.

For more information on Sublocade, check out the manufacturer website here, or check out the press release here.

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