As of May 2020, two new long acting opioid replacement options became available for the wider public in Queensland these being Sublocade and Buvidal. These medications are long acting subcutaneous (SC) injections of buprenorphine; this means they are injected into the layer of fat between your skin and muscle and unlike conventional opioid replacement options they are intended to hold you for up to a month from a single dose. Like Subutex both Sublocade and Buvidal are buprenorphine only products, whereas suboxone contains naloxone.
Sublocade is available as a monthly injection, it works as a ‘viscous’ liquid that forms a solid deposit once injected, lasting for a month. Whereas, Buvidal is available in a weekly or monthly. The buprenorphine in Buvidal acts as a sort of slow release gel otherwise known as a ‘depot’ shot that spreads throughout the body. Depending on the dosage given the ‘gel’ breaks down over the week to month period, slowly releasing buprenorphine. In short Buprenorphine in all its forms acts as a partial opioid agonist, meaning it blocks the ‘feel good receptors’ that other opioids would usually fill up, this can help reduce cravings and withdrawal.
Some benefits people may have with dosing on a weekly to monthly basis include:
- Reduced dosing fees
- Less triggering for people who may struggle with attending a clinic daily
- Less blast from the past run ins
- Less worry about storage of takeaways (or getting hassled)
- Reduced transportation cost (frequency of needing to travel)
- More time, flexibility, and freedom to not need a daily dose
- Reduction of stigma and improved privacy for individuals
Some other considerations with long action injections are:
- If you prefer daily dosing
- Blocks other opioid use
When it comes to medication it’s important to remember that different things work for different people, Methadone might be the one for you, maybe Suboxone, Sublocade or a Long Acting Injection. Some people may prefer the choice to skip doses or maintain the ability to still use while on a program. If you feel as if Sublocade or Buvidal might be a fit for you contact your prescriber or AOD worker for more information.
Queensland’s Pharmacotherapy Advocacy Mediation and Support Service (QPAMS) can provide you with information about your bupe or methadone treatment, as well as provide advocacy and mediation to help sort out any problems you are having with your treatment program or your clinic pharmacy. If you want to talk to someone about your treatment; its free and confidential. Give QPAMS a call on 1800 175 899.
Disclaimer: This article is written in the interest of the reader; it was not written in the interest of Indivior (maker of Sublocade) or Camurus (maker of Buvidal). For medical advice on treatment please contact a healthcare professional. As both opioid replacement options are injections, they must be administered by a healthcare professional such as a doctor or nurse, in a clinical setting like a GP office, specialist prescriber or opioid treatment clinic. Miss use can lead serious harm or fatal risk.
Both Sublocade and Buvidal are now available in Queensland on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS).