Published On: February 27, 2018

FDA Approves Monthly Injection for Opioid Addiction – But is it the Answer?

Health officials in the U.S. have approved an injectable medication intended to treat addiction to opioids, painkillers and heroin. The active ingredient, buprenorphine, is already used in several orally-administered medications that come in the form of sublingual tablets and dissolvable strips, most commonly under the trade names Suboxone and Subutex. Besides route of ingestion, the major difference between Suboxone/Subutex and this new injectable formula, marketed as Sublocade, lies in the price point. A monthly dose of Sublocade costs $1,580, while Suboxone costs about $100 per month. This injectable formulation is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2018.

This is not the only recently developed innovation containing buprenorphine. In May 2016, the FDA also approved the first buprenorphine implant for the treatment of opioid abuse. Naltrexone, also known as Revia or Vivitrol, has been used for years as an injected medication to treat both opioid and alcohol dependence. This is chemically different than buprenorphine in that it does not attach to receptors in the brain because naltrexone is not an opioid. Naltrexone also requires that a patient detox first, while buprenorphine can be taken right at the onset of withdrawal symptoms.

Like methadone, buprenorphine was envisioned to decrease opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and when used in this capacity, it proves to be a suitable detoxification medication. An issue arises, however, when these opioid-containing medications, used to treat opioid abuse, are administered over long periods of time. Dependence inevitably results from long-term buprenorphine-based treatments, begging the question of how one is supposed to detox from the medicine that itself was marketed as a detox aid. Perhaps in the form of yet another high-priced medication? And the cycle of chemical dependence is perpetuated on and on…

While it appears commendable that pharmaceutical companies are putting forth serious effort to combat the increasingly deadly opioid epidemic, we must be wary of their possible motivation to financially exploit the desperation of addicts and their families with a “solution” of disputable efficacy. After all, the pharmaceutical industry has never proven itself to not stoop to these tactics. While it may be true that the availability of Sublocade may reduce the overall death toll associated with the drug epidemic, bupreonorphine treatment in and of itself does not constitute a successful, sustainable program of recovery.

These types of medications are best employed in the short-term so that one may be in a condition, physically and mentally, to undergo a true program of recovery that entails long-lasting sobriety and spiritual awakening. This is the type of program that Serenity Springs places its trust in and it is because of this program that so many alumni of Serenity Springs enjoy the fruits of living a life without drugs or alcohol.

To learn more about how Serenity Springs can show you or your loved one the way to this happy, joyous and free way of life, please contact us today.