Alberta is the first government in Canada to fully cover the cost of Sublocade, an injectable opioid treatment drug. (Contributed photo)

Alberta is the first government in Canada to fully cover the cost of Sublocade, an injectable opioid treatment drug. (Contributed photo)

Alberta funds opioid treatment drug

‘Appropriate for pretty much anybody who has opioid addiction’

The provincially funded, injectable opioid treatment drug Sublocade is a good option for anyone — whether they are experiencing homelessness or struggling with addiction at home.

Dr. Nathaniel Day, medical director of the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program with Alberta Health Services, said people using the medication have found that they feel more stable than they ever thought possible.

“Sublocade is pretty indicated and appropriate for pretty much anybody who has opioid addiction. It’s very effective and safe,” Day said.

Alberta is the first government in Canada to fully cover the cost of Sublocade. The treatment lasts in a person’s system for 30 days, providing stabilization, reduced craving and significantly enhanced protection against overdose.

“Far too many people continue to use opioids. Far too many continue to die from opioid overdoses,” Day said.

“A large number of people who are dying are people who are trying opioids for the first time, or early in their addiction situation, or weren’t intending to take opioids while using other drugs. The more we can help a person move forward in treatment and recovery, the less likely they are to have social dysfunction, including crime.”

Related:

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He said Sublocade could be especially helpful for a younger person who is just getting into treatment and may relapse.

“(Parents) are so scared. They’re so afraid that today’s going to be the day. If we can get that young person a shot (parents) can rest assured that person will continue with the medication for at least a month.”

Sublocade is now an opioid agonist therapy medication covered through government-sponsored health benefit plans and the gap coverage program. Albertans who do not have a health benefit plan can apply for opioid agonist therapy gap coverage so they can start treatment right away for free as they arrange supplementary health benefits.

The majority of other opioid agonist therapy medications must be taken daily. But Sublocade provides increased flexibility for work and life commitments. Individuals are encouraged to work with their prescribing physician and health-care team to determine the right medication for them.

Related:

Virtual Opioid Dependency Program spreads across Alberta

The province is also providing $1.4 million to further expand and create a low-barrier division of the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program. This division will do rapid assessment and treatment initiations for those struggling with addiction and opioid use and will provide enhanced case management for clients.

Total funding for the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program from the province is now $6.4 million annually.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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