New $1,600 a month heroin-fighting medicine a ‘game changer’

FOX Files
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS – Users often say they want to quit but the withdrawals are so intense that it pulls them back to the streets looking for another fix. That’s why a new opioid medication is being described as a great new weapon against opioid addiction.

“To go from here to here is such a big jump. They need that titration, they need that step-down,” said Chad Sabora, a recovering addict who now helps others through his Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery.

Sabora calls a new treatment drug called Sublocade “a game changer.”

“We have time to work with them on the core issues that drove their addiction and then once we deal with that, then we can deal them down to the next step,” he said. “It’s an amazing tool.”

Sublocade is a once-a-month injection that allows the extended release of Suboxone.

Sabora says regular Suboxone is also successful, but that pill requires a daily dose. But there’s a problem with that, he says.

“A person can be fully ready at day one of starting this treatment. (They might say) ‘I don’t ever want to do this drug again’ and they’re doing great for about 10 days, 14 days, but then something happens, and they decide ‘I’m going to skip my Suboxone today,’ and after a day or two they could start using elicit opioids again,” he said.

Sublocade works differently than another successful heroin fighting shot Vivitrol. Britney Gilliam credits Vivitrol for helping her kick her heroin habit years ago. In 2015, she said, “I feel like it just flipped the switch in my brain.”

Gilliam said she just hit her six-year clean mark this past January.

Vivitrol is sometimes described as long-acting Narcan. It blocks a brain’s receptors, so a person cannot feel high. A patient can still overdose if they use heroin.

Sabora describes Sublocade as a partial blocker, but also part agonist as the opiate dose helps with cravings.

Sabora added, “We know this isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing, so one person could walk into our office for a treatment referral based on an assessment, they could do best on Methadone, Suboxone, or Vivitrol, so we have to have options.”

Some treatment centers are trying to get insurance companies to pay for the $1,600 monthly shot. It’s sometimes covered.

You can find a list of opioid treatment centers online at You can also watch our 2015 Fox Files report on Vivitriol here.

About the FOX Files

The Fox Files are groundbreaking investigations you won’t see anywhere else. The series is well known for breaking the Pam Hupp story nationally. The reports that led to the exoneration of Russ Faria. But, it is far from the only time in which our investigations led to overturned convictions and freedom for the wrongfully accused. The Fox Files investigations do not fit into just one category, other than the fact our reports shine a light on issues and corruption in ways you won’t see anywhere else.

You won’t know what to expect as our reports often take twists that surprise even Fox Files investigator Chris Hayes.

“You never know where the truth will lead and you have to keep searching for it, even when you think you might be done,” Hayes said.

From getting arrested for trying to cover a public meeting, to getting law enforcement involved in his report about a daycare fight club, the Fox Files has been at the forefront of breaking news investigations in the St. Louis area.

It doesn’t stop just in St. Louis. The Pam Hupp/Russ Faria story took him to Lincoln County. Fox 2 was the first to report, nationally, on the synthetic drug epidemic when it began in St. Charles County, MO. In St. Louis County, our Fox Files reporting led to the dismantling of some police departments, including the departments of Uplands Park and Jennings. And in the City of St. Louis, our investigations led to swift government actions, such as our report that led to the Governor’s ordered shut down of a daycare.

Our reporting in St. Louis also led to former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens’ exclusive Fox Files interviews involving his court fight to oust the chief prosecutor while attempting to prove that political corruption led to an illegal overturning of a state election.

“It’s not always bad news,” Hayes said about a recent victory for a restaurant in his coverage of a St. Clair County Illinois issue. A Fox Files report, exposing a health department’s mistake over the COVID-19 pandemic, led to an overturning of a decision, allowing the business to open for limited inside dining.

Another investigation took us to Madison County, where prosecutors praised Fox 2’s coverage while shutting down an illegal synthetic drug business – and to Monroe County, where we uncovered key evidence in the Chris Coleman murder trial.

Even the national media, continues reaching out to local affiliate Fox 2 KTVI and the Fox Files, for its work on cases that are important to St. Louis. When you see a network television’s coverage of St. Louis, you’ll often see that they gathered information that was first uncovered right here.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News