Alberta is also the first province in Canada to achieve “treatment on demand” through its award-winning Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP). 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.
In addition to covering the cost of Sublocade, Alberta’s government is providing $1.4 million to further expand and create a low-barrier division of the VODP. 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 VODP from Alberta’s government is now $6.4 million annually.
“Alberta’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program is a world-class program that was developed right here in Alberta. Alberta’s government is proud to support the expansion of this program and to partner with them in helping more Albertans access evidence-based medications for opioid use.
“The addition of Sublocade to the publicly funded formulary and removal from special access will significantly reduce barriers to this medication. Recovery-oriented care is about providing options to Albertans with addiction and this option will save lives and support recovery.”
The cost of Sublocade is now covered on the public formulary with no special access requirements. Sublocade is an injectable version of the gold-standard opioid treatment medication Suboxone that is widely used in Alberta. Sublocade lasts in a persons system for 30 days providing stabilization, reduced craving, and significantly enhanced protection against overdose.
“Alberta’s Virtual Opioid Dependency Program has seen great success by connecting with people, regardless of where they live. We are proud to partner with Alberta’s government to provide better opioid treatment services to more Albertans across the province.”
“The decision by Alberta’s government to cover the costs of Sublocade, an expensive and often difficult to access medication, will be a game-changer for addiction treatment in Alberta. This will increase treatment options for individuals with opioid addiction. 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.”
Opioid agonist therapy (OAT) medications are covered through supplementary government-sponsored health benefit plans. Albertans who do not have a health benefit plan can apply for OAT gap coverage so they can start treatment right away for free as they arrange supplementary health benefits. The medication Sublocade is now an OAT medication covered through government-sponsored health benefit plans and the gap coverage program.
Sublocade is a monthly injection, while the majority of other OAT medications must be taken daily. This provides Albertans with increased flexibility in their work and life commitments. Individuals are encouraged to work with their prescribing physician and health-care team to determine the right medication for them.
Alberta’s government is helping Albertans access life-saving addiction prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery resources. A $140-million investment over four years is supporting the addition of more than 8,000 new publicly funded treatment spaces; the elimination of daily user fees for publicly funded residential addiction treatment; a new patient matching tool, Recovery Access Alberta; the expansion of opioid agonist therapy and services to reduce harm, such as the Digital Overdose Response system (DORS) and the introduction of a nasal naloxone pilot.
- The VODP is administered by Alberta Health Services and is available throughout the province. People dependent on opioids are treated with opioid agonist therapy (OAT) drugs and provided with ongoing support and monitoring in an outpatient setting. When taken as prescribed, OAT drugs help a person function normally by managing withdrawal symptoms.
- The VODP can be accessed by calling 1-844-383-7688. The toll-free line is available seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. There is no wait-list for the program.
- For additional support, information and referral to services, call Alberta 211 or the Addiction Helpline (1-866-332-2322).
- Individuals in Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding communities also have access to the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS), a free mobile app designed to prevent fatal overdoses. Find the app on the Apple and Google app store or visit DORSApp.ca.