Lebanon, OH, United States (4E) – A common pleas court judge in Ohio’s Warren County has sentenced a twice-arrested heroin user to a monthly shot of the opiate-blocking drug Vivitrol instead of jail time.
Judge Robert Peeler of the Warren County Common Pleas Court made the decision last week as he recognized Cynthia Fugate, 30, as an addict more than a criminal. The order was also meant to prevent her from dying from heroin overdose as what happened to three drug offenders under trial in Peeler’s courtroom.
Fugate admitted overdosing four times before the court and told the judge she wanted to be clean.
“I want to stop people from dying,” Peeler said after sending Fugate for rehab.
Far more heroin addicts are dying outside Peeler’s courtroom. State records put the heroin overdose deaths in 2012 at 680, a 60 percent increase from 2011. The statistics prompted judges like Peeler to resort to Vivitrol injection sentences.
At $800 to $1,200 per shot, Vivitrol is expensive.The State of Ohio is providing $800 000 in funding for anti-overdose injection program in Warren County. Similar funding are provided in dozens of other courts, jails and prisons in at least 21 states in response to rising heroin overdose deaths.
Vivitrol, made by Alkermes PLC of Ireland, prevents a heroin addict from getting high by causing the brain to reject further production of endorphins, which normally trigger the brain to release dopamine to produce pleasure.
In pill form, Vivitrol is called Naltrexone, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved to treat heroin addiction in 1984 and for alcoholism in 1994. The pill needed to be taken daily and addicts can easily skip medication, so the injectable Vivitrol was developed. The FDA approved Vivitrol for the treatment of alcoholism in 2006 and for opiate addiction in 2010.
Naltrexone implants were also developed as an alternative to the injectable form of the drug. In the Start Fresh Program (SFP) of addiction rehab company BioCorRx (OTC: BICX), Naltrexon implants are used on patients suffering from opiate or alcohol addiction.
The implant slowly release dose of the drug that can last up to year in many patients giving the patients a higher success rate in eliminating cravings for drugs and alcohol.
The SFP also includes a 6 to 8 months of personal therapy designed to develop a drug- and alcohol-free future for the patient.
Past clinic reports have shown that patients who completed the entire program had over an 85% success rate with sobriety after one year of program start date, according to the SFP website. This rate was based on subjective data collected by clinic staff from their routine interviews with the patients and/or their families at various time intervals starting from the first day of treatment.