Carmel treatment center first in Midwest to offer ‘game-changing’ injection targeting drug crisis

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CARMEL, Ind. – Inside Lucina Treatment Center, an opening to a potential game-changer.

“If you were to mess up and take heroin or pain pills, it’s going to have absolutely no effect,” Dr. Andrew Roberts said, co-owner of Lucina Treatment Center.

Sublocade was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last November and became publicly available in March. Roberts calls it the first medication of its kind to treat addictions to prescription pills or heroin.

“Once I got it, it was like a miracle,” Doug Palmer said, a recovering addict from Kansas City.

Sublocade is a shot in the stomach and the injection is only needed once a month. And unlike other popular treatments like Suboxone, no pills or patches are needed.

“It kind of takes away that hand-to-mouth that people are used to for when they were using pills,” Roberts said. “And it also increases compliance.”

Lucina Treatment Center was the first in the Midwest to offer Sublocade after clinical trials proved a success.

“I felt like I was reborn,” Palmer said. “Became a new person. I was able to live my life and not have to think about taking a pill, which was huge for me.”

In Indiana, Roberts said some insurance companies have started covering Sublocade, adding Medicaid is beginning to cover the treatment as well, a major move he said will benefit Hoosiers and Americans facing addiction.

“It does because the majority of our patients are on Medicaid,” he said. “Even though addiction does affect all socioeconomic classes.”

Roberts said he is currently treating a handful of patients in Central Indiana using sublocade. Without insurance, Roberts said the injection costs between $15,000 - $18,000 a month.

For patients like Palmer, the advice to others is real as new treatments are working to keep pace with addiction.

“Don’t wait,” Palmer said. “Don’t wait another day. Don’t wait another hour. Call some place and try to get medical help.”

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