Generic Name: buprenorphine (Sublingual route)

bue-pre-NOR-feen

Commonly used brand name(s)

In the U.S.

  • Subutex

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Tablet

Therapeutic Class: Opioid Dependency

Pharmacologic Class: Opioid Agonist/Antagonist

Chemical Class: Opioid

Uses For Subutex

Buprenorphine is used to treat opioid (narcotic) dependence or addiction. When a narcotic medicine is used for a long time, it may become habit-forming, causing mental or physical dependence. Physical dependence may lead to withdrawal side effects if the narcotic is stopped suddenly. Severe withdrawal side effects can usually be prevented when a person is switched to buprenorphine. It acts on the central nervous system (CNS) to help prevent the withdrawal side effects.

Slideshow: 2014 Update: First Time Brand-to-Generic Switches

This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using Subutex

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of buprenorphine in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of buprenorphine in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney or liver problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving buprenorphine.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy Category Explanation
All Trimesters C Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

Breast Feeding

Studies in women breastfeeding have demonstrated harmful infant effects. An alternative to this medication should be prescribed or you should stop breastfeeding while using this medicine.

Interactions with Medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

  • Naltrexone

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Alfentanil
  • Alphaprodine
  • Alprazolam
  • Amobarbital
  • Anileridine
  • Atazanavir
  • Baclofen
  • Bromazepam
  • Buspirone
  • Butabarbital
  • Carbamazepine
  • Carbinoxamine
  • Carisoprodol
  • Ceritinib
  • Chloral Hydrate
  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Chlorzoxazone
  • Clobazam
  • Clonazepam
  • Clorazepate
  • Cobicistat
  • Codeine
  • Crizotinib
  • Cyclobenzaprine
  • Dabrafenib
  • Delavirdine
  • Dexmedetomidine
  • Diazepam
  • Dihydrocodeine
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Diphenoxylate
  • Doxylamine
  • Eslicarbazepine Acetate
  • Estazolam
  • Eszopiclone
  • Ethchlorvynol
  • Fentanyl
  • Fluconazole
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Flurazepam
  • Fospropofol
  • Halazepam
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Ketazolam
  • Ketobemidone
  • Levorphanol
  • Lorazepam
  • Meclizine
  • Meperidine
  • Mephobarbital
  • Meprobamate
  • Meptazinol
  • Metaxalone
  • Methadone
  • Methocarbamol
  • Methohexital
  • Methotrimeprazine
  • Midazolam
  • Mitotane
  • Morphine
  • Morphine Sulfate Liposome
  • Nelfinavir
  • Nitrazepam
  • Orphenadrine
  • Oxazepam
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Pentazocine
  • Pentobarbital
  • Phenobarbital
  • Piperaquine
  • Prazepam
  • Primidone
  • Promethazine
  • Propofol
  • Propoxyphene
  • Quazepam
  • Ramelteon
  • Secobarbital
  • Siltuximab
  • Sodium Oxybate
  • Sufentanil
  • Tapentadol
  • Telaprevir
  • Temazepam
  • Thiopental
  • Thioridazine
  • Tipranavir
  • Tizanidine
  • Topiramate
  • Topotecan
  • Triazolam
  • Zaleplon
  • Zolpidem
  • Zopiclone

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Darunavir
  • Etravirine
  • Fosamprenavir
  • Perampanel

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

  • Ethanol

Other Medical Problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Addison's disease (adrenal gland problem) or
  • Alcohol abuse, or history of or
  • Asthma, severe or
  • Brain tumor, history of or
  • Breathing problems, severe (e.g., hypercapnia, hypoxia) or
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or
  • Cor pulmonale (serious heart condition) or
  • Enlarged prostate (BPH, prostatic hypertrophy) or
  • Gallbladder disease or gallstones or
  • Head injuries, history of or
  • Heart disease or
  • Hepatitis B or C, history of or
  • Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) or
  • Hypovolemia (low blood volume) or
  • Kyphoscoliosis (curvature of the spine with breathing problems) or
  • Problems with passing urine—Use with caution. May increase risk for more serious side effects.
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure) or
  • Respiratory depression (very slow breathing) or
  • Stomach problems—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
  • Kidney disease or
  • Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.

Proper Use of Subutex

Take this medicine exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.

Do not crush or swallow the sublingual tablet. Place the tablet under the tongue until it is dissolved. If you take 2 or more tablets at a time, place all of the tablets under the tongue together. If this is uncomfortable, place 2 tablets at a time under the tongue and repeat the process until all tablets have been taken.

Use only the brand of this medicine that your doctor prescribed. Different brands may not work the same way.

This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

Dosing

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For sublingual dosage form (tablets):
    • For maintenance treatment of opioid dependence:
      • Adults—
        • Suboxone® (buprenorphine and naloxone combination): buprenorphine 4 milligrams (mg)/naloxone 1 mg to buprenorphine 24 mg/naloxone 6 mg taken as a single dose once a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
        • Subutex® (buprenorphine): 12 to 16 mg as a single dose once a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Dispose any unneeded tablets by flushing them down the toilet.

Precautions While Using Subutex

It is very important that your doctor check your progress while you are using this medicine. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

It is against the law and dangerous for anyone else to use your medicine. Keep your unused tablets in a safe and secure place. People who are addicted to drugs might want to steal this medicine.

Before having any kind of surgery (including dental surgery) or emergency treatment, tell the medical doctor or dentist in charge that you are using this medicine. Serious unwanted effects can occur if certain medicines are given together with buprenorphine.

This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that can make you drowsy or less alert). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for allergies or colds; sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine; other prescription pain medicine or narcotics; medicine for seizures or barbiturates; muscle relaxants; or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the medicines listed above while you are using this medicine.

Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur when you get up suddenly from a lying or sitting position. Getting up slowly may help lessen this problem. Also, lying down for a while may relieve the dizziness or lightheadedness.

This medicine may make you dizzy, drowsy, or lightheaded. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or not alert.

This medicine may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash; itching; hoarseness; trouble breathing; trouble swallowing; or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine.

If you have been using this medicine regularly for several weeks or longer, do not suddenly stop using it without checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely. This may help reduce the possibility of withdrawal symptoms, such as abdominal or stomach cramps, anxiety, fever, nausea, runny nose, sweating, tremors, or trouble with sleeping.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant may cause serious unwanted effects in your newborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you think you are pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant while using this medicine.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

Subutex Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Incidence not known
  • Blurred vision
  • confusion
  • difficult or troubled breathing
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • drowsiness
  • irregular, fast, slow, or shallow breathing
  • pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • pinpoint pupils
  • relaxed and calm feeling
  • shortness of breath
  • sleepiness
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
  • Back pain
  • cough or hoarseness
  • difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
  • fever or chills
  • headache
  • lower back or side pain
  • nausea
  • painful or difficult urination
  • runny nose
  • sleeplessness
  • sneezing
  • stomach pain
  • stuffy nose
  • trouble sleeping
  • unable to sleep
  • vomiting
Less common
  • Diarrhea
  • feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheaded
  • feeling of warmth or heat
  • flushing or redness of the skin, especially on the face and neck
  • lack or loss of strength
  • sweating

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

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