Buprenorphine Side Effects

Not all side effects for buprenorphine may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

For the Consumer

Applies to buprenorphine: sublingual tablet

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by buprenorphine. In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking buprenorphine:

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 of the side effects that can occur with buprenorphine may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

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

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to buprenorphine: compounding powder, injectable solution, sublingual tablet, transdermal film extended release


Side effects affecting the body as a whole in opioid dependent patients have included asthenia (6.5% vs 6.5% with placebo), chills (7.5% vs 7.5% with placebo), headache (36.4% vs 22.4% with placebo), infection (5.6% vs 6.5% with placebo), pain (22.4% vs 18.7% with placebo), abdominal pain (11.2% vs 6.5% with placebo), back pain (3.7% vs 11.2% with placebo), and withdrawal syndrome (25.2% vs 37.4% with placebo). Sublingual buprenorphine may cause withdrawal symptoms in opioid dependent patients.

Chronic administration of buprenorphine may result in dependence and withdrawal symptoms may occur upon abrupt withdrawal. Buprenorphine may also cause withdrawal symptoms if administered to opioid-dependent patients.

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects associated with parenteral buprenorphine have most commonly included sedation (60%). Dizziness, vertigo, headache have been reported in 5% to 10% of patients. Confusion, weakness, fatigue, nervousness, slurred speech, and paresthesia have been reported in less than 1% of patients. Buprenorphine may elevate cerebrospinal fluid pressure and produce changes in the level of consciousness. Somnolence, tinnitus, agitation, tremor, coma, and convulsions have also been reported.

Nervous system side effects in opioid dependent patients have included insomnia (14% vs 15.9% with placebo). Increased CNS depression may occur in patients receiving concurrent CNS depressants (e.g., narcotic analgesics, general anesthetics, benzodiazepines, phenothiazines, tranquilizers, sedative/hypnotics, or alcohol). Side effects associated with buprenorphine alone have included anxiety, depression, dizziness, insomnia, nervousness, somnolence, and elevated cerebrospinal fluid pressure.


Respiratory system side effects have included respiratory depression with therapeutic doses of injectable and sublingual buprenorphine. Death has occurred with intravenous misuse of buprenorphine, usually with concurrent benzodiazepines, alcohol, and/or other CNS depressants. Hypoventilation (1% to 5%), dyspnea (less than 1%), cyanosis (less than 1%), and apnea (less than 1%) have also been reported.

Respiratory system side effects in opioid dependent patients have included rhinitis (4.7% vs 13.1% with placebo) and respiratory depression, particularly after intravenous administration. Sublingual buprenorphine has been implicated in a case of noncardiogenic pulmonary edema. Death has occurred with intravenous misuse of buprenorphine, usually with concurrent benzodiazepines, alcohol, and/or other CNS depressants.


Gastrointestinal side effects in opioid dependent patients have included constipation (12.1% vs 2.8% with placebo), diarrhea (3.7% vs 15% with placebo), nausea (15% vs 11.2% with placebo), and vomiting (7.5% vs 4.7% with placebo). Buprenorphine may increase intracholedochal pressure.


Hypersensitivity reactions associated with buprenorphine have included rash, hives, pruritus, bronchospasm, angioneurotic edema, and anaphylactic shock.


Neonatal withdrawal has been reported in infants of women who took buprenorphine during pregnancy.


Cardiovascular side effects in opioid dependent patients have included vasodilation (9.3% vs 6.5% with placebo). Buprenorphine may cause orthostatic hypotension. Misuse of crushed buprenorphine tablets by inhalation has been associated with chest pain and acute anterior myocardial infarction in a 22-year-old male.


Endocrine effects have included sweating (sublingual in opioid dependent patients, 14% vs. 10.3% with placebo; parenteral for analgesia, 1% to 5%).


Ocular side effects have included blurred vision, conjunctivitis, amblyopia, and miosis.


Psychiatric side effects associated with parenteral buprenorphine have included euphoria, depersonalization, depression, dreaming, and psychosis in less than 1% of patients. Dysphoria has been reported rarely. Auditory and visual hallucinations have been associated with parenteral and sublingual buprenorphine.


Genitourinary side effects have included urinary retention (less than 1%).


Dermatologic side effects have included pruritus (3%) and urticaria. Dermatologic side effects associated with the transdermal patch have included application site pruritus (15%), application site erythema (7%), application site rash (6%), and pruritus (4%).


Musculoskeletal side effects have included lack of muscle coordination (rare).

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