CoLAB study extended for 12 months to continue evaluation of extended release buprenorphine

May 2020

The CoLAB study, led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, has been extended for 12 months to continue evaluating outcomes, processes and costs of extended release buprenorphine (XR-BUP).

The extension makes CoLAB the first study globally to follow up patients for longer than 12 months. Patients will be followed up every two-months via phone interview, and every six-months in the clinic.

CoLAB began recruiting in May 2019 and the first patients finishing treatment have now been placed in the extended study. The study has experienced strong retention rates with treatment retention at 85 per cent, and research interview retention at 94 per cent.

The drug used in the CoLAB study, Sublocade, became available on the Federal Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in Australia on 1 May 2020. Depending on dispensing fees in each state, Sublocade will now be free and available to those in opioid agonist treatment (OAT).

During COVID-19, XR- BUP is being explored as an alternative treatment choice as patients are required to attend monthly for dosing, rather than daily or several times a week.

Director of NDARC, Professor Michael Farrell said, “XR-BUP is more in line with social distancing recommendations, and we are starting to see patients and clinicians explore it as an alternative treatment option.”

“COVID-19 has meant a re-think in the way OAT treatments are delivered and how to lessen the opportunities for infection.”

“Consumer choice, cost, and availability are all elements in OAT that need to be continually explored and evaluated. We are looking forward to seeing more data on the financial impacts of using XR-BUP compared to other OAT treatments, as well as data on how COVID-19 has impacted OAT treatment.”