Injectable Suboxone? Introducing Sublocade

Injectable Subutex or injectable Suboxone: Have you wondered why this doesn’t exist? Now it does.

Is there an Injectable Suboxone? Not exactly, but there is a new monthly injectable form of buprenorphine! Until now, for the treatment of OUD (Opioid Use Disorder), there has been essentially two ways to administer medication. So, if you have decided to recover from opioid or opiate addiction, you will soon have another option.

Under the tongue or under the skin: what we have now

There are two current options for delivering medications that contain buprenorphine, such as Suboxone, Subutex and Zubsolv and Probuphine. The first is by far the most common. It involves placing the medication under the tongue and waiting for it to dissolve. Whether it is in the form of a film or a tablet, it is the same.

The Probuphine implant: the other current option

For patients who are stable in treatment with sublingual buprenorphine, such as Suboxone, at a level of 8mg per day, there is Probuphine. This is an implantable device that delivers a steady level of medication for a period of six months. By changing implant locations every six months, it can be used up to two years.

The new third option, Sublocade: injection into the muscle

Sublocade is a new medication product made by the company Indivior, the same company that makes Suboxone Films. This new product is designed to be injected into a muscle once per month. Sublocade was just approved by the FDA at the end of November 2017.

What will a monthly injection mean for opiate and opioid addiction treatment?

There are a few issues with the current options for treatment. With under the tongue medication such as Suboxone, Subutex and ZubSolv, the treatment can be difficult to manage when patients are given a prescription to take home. Patients sometimes do not follow the directions and this can negatively affect their program of recovery. When patients don’t take medication as directed, they may increase the risk of relapse and end up back on drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.

What problems can occur with the six month implant?

The implant is placed with a minor in-office surgery. This introduces common risks associated with surgical procedures. There can be infection, tissue reactions, scarring , nerve damage, movement of the implant out of place.

What do we not know about the monthly “injectable Suboxone” ?

Sublocade appears to solve some of the issues with our existing treatment products. We do not know what issues will be introduced. We also do not know the cost and if insurance will cover treatment. While no medication is free of potential complications, we look forward to seeing how well Sublocade works for patients in treating addiction and dependence to opiates and opioids.