Updated: Feb 15
For those of you that are not aware, there is a new form of Buprenorphine that has hit the market in the past year and is vastly different than any other form available. Unlike most other forms of Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Zubsolv, Subutex, Bunavail, etc) which are usually taken sublingually (under the tongue) or placed against the cheek, Sublocade is a subcutaneous injection that is given once a month into the stomach and releases a gradual amount of Buprenorphine over that time period. The only similar product on the market is the Probuphine implant which is actually a subdermal implant that goes on the underside of your arm similar to the Nexplanon birth control implant and releases a steady level of Buprenorphine over a 6 month period.
Why Would I Choose Sublocade Over Suboxone?
So what are some of the pros and cons of this new treatment modality? As with any medical treatment, one option may work better than another depending on the individual so it is important to consult your Suboxone doctor to find out which method may work best for you. One advantage from the provider's perspective is that Sublocade eliminates the risk of diversion and abuse/misuse that accompanies other forms of Buprenorphine. It also breaks the hand-to-mouth repetition that came with prior opioid abuse and helps to reinforce positive habits. For patients, the advantages of Sublocade are numerous and include not having to worry about carrying around medicine and remembering to take it. It also prevents the loss of medicine either through theft or misplacement.
So what are some of the disadvantages? Since Sublocade is a newer treatment option, it tends to be on the more expensive side especially if you don't have insurance. And even if you do have insurance, it will almost always require a prior authorization and may not be covered at all. Since Sublocade is an injection, it can only be obtained through a specialty pharmacy which adds time and complexity to an already lengthy process and can only be delivered and administered in a physician's office. In order to get started on Sublocade, an individual needs to have been stabilized on a traditional form of Suboxone first and must be on a dose between 8 and 24 mg. In addition, since Sublocade is so new not every Suboxone clinic will even offer it as a treatment option although here at Lucina Treatment Center we were confirmed the first clinic in the Midwest and one of the first in the country to offer it. We were even interviewed on CBS4Indy about Sublocade and are big proponents of it.