Albertsons Cos. Wants to Help Treat Opioid Use Disorder

Grocer’s partnership with Bicycle Health brings convenient treatment to more patients
Emily Crowe
Multimedia Editor
Injectable treatment for opioid use disorder patients is now available at Albertsons Cos. pharmacies in 17 states.

Albertsons Cos. is making it easier for those with opioid use disorder to get treatment through its pharmacies. The grocer’s collaboration with Bicycle Health, the nation’s largest provider of telemedicine treatment for opioid use disorder, will make buprenorphine extended release injections (known as Sublocade) available to patients in 17 states.

Bicycle Health’s doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants will be able to prescribe monthly injections of buprenorphine virtually that can then be filled inside an Albertsons Cos. pharmacy as an alternative to patients taking daily Suboxone orally. Buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, has been proven to reduce drug overdoses, ER visits and overall healthcare costs. 

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“In 2021, 81% of overdose deaths involved an opioid in the U.S., and the problem is getting worse by the day,” said Brian Clear, MD, chief medical officer at Bicycle Health. “We had not made a dent in this problem until the pandemic removed restrictions on telemedicine, at which point, telemedicine access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) quickly became associated with reductions in fatal drug overdose, improved retention in MOUD treatment, improvements in treatment adherence for veterans and seniors, and industry-leading improvements in MOUD retention and no-show rates.” 

The partnership makes Albertsons a strategic pharmacy provider to Bicycle Health, helping reach those struggling with opioid use disorder in communities with limited access to treatment. Buprenorphine injectable medication is now available at more than 700 Albertsons Cos. pharmacies in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington. The companies plan to expand the partnership to additional states as the regulatory environment allows. 

“We are excited to offer Bicycle Health patients access to recovery care solutions in our pharmacies,” said Erin Shaal, VP of pharmacy procurement, specialty and patient care at Albertsons Cos. “Offering recovery injectables at our pharmacies fill a need in our communities where patients are seeking alternative treatment options to manage opioid use disorder in a stigma-free environment.”

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates more than 2,200 retail stores in 34 states. The company is No. 9 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company as one of its Retailers of the Century.

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