Alberta government will cover cost of Sublocade, the new drug that fights opioid addiction
The Alberta government is hoping to stem the rise in opioid-related responses and deaths with a new injectable drug called Sublocade.
The province will cover all the costs of the treatment, which sits inside someone’s body for 30 days, fighting the urge to use illicit drugs.
“This will increase treatment options for individuals with opioid addiction,” said Dr. Monty Ghosh, president of the addiction medicine section with the Alberta Medical Association.
“Addiction medicine physicians across Alberta will be grateful to have another tool to treat opioid addiction, especially for our various vulnerable clients who previously could not afford this life-saving medication.”
This program offers same-day treatment anywhere in the province with no wait-list to access evidence-based medications, including the newly approved Sublocade injection.
It can be administered at clinics or pharmacies.
“It means less sleepless nights for parents and loved ones who wait up at night for that dreaded phone call,” said associate minister of mental health and addictions, Mike Ellis.
“It means that our homeless and our vulnerable population don't need to worry about destabilizing as a result of not taking their medication and starting immediately.”
This announcement comes as Alberta Health Services (AHS) says it has seen a higher than average number of opioid-related calls in the province's two largest cities in recent weeks.
Between Nov. 29 and Dec 5., EMS responded to 85 opioid-related calls for help in Calgary. Over the last month, paramedics responded to between 44 and 58 calls per week.
Paramedic Stuart Brideaux and spokesperson for EMS says these calls are putting a strain on the system.
“These calls take a different approach, and again, they can be in circumstances or areas that can be less conducive to a safe or well at work environment, and they just add a level of stress,” said Brideaux.
In Edmonton, those numbers are much higher.
There were 140 opioid-related calls for EMS in the provincial capital between Nov. 29 and Dec. 5. Over the last month, paramedics in Edmonton have responded to anywhere from 57 to 112 opioid-related calls each week.
AHS says those who use illegal drugs should:
- Avoid using while alone;
- Ask someone to check on you, or use while on the phone with a trusted person;
- Use supervised consumption services (SCS) if possible;
- Always do a test dose to check the potency or strength of the drug;
- Know the signs and symptoms of poisoning/overdose and call 911 always for direction and support; and,
- Carry a naloxone kit and know to use it to respond to a suspected opioid poisoning.
The provincial government plans to unveil a 'new weapon' in the fight against opioid overdoses during a Wednesday announcement.