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Buprenorphine (injection - Buprenex)

Generic Name: buprenorphine (injection - Buprenex) (byoo pre NOR feen)
Brand Name: Buprenex

Medically reviewed on January 9, 2018.

What is buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is an opioid pain medication, sometimes called a narcotic.

This medication guide provides information about the Buprenex brand of buprenorphine injection. Sublocade is another brand of buprenorphine injection used to treat opioid addiction.

Buprenex is used to treat moderate to severe pain.

Buprenex may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Buprenex can slow or stop your breathing, and may be habit-forming. MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.

Using this medicine during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.

Fatal side effects can occur if you use this medicine with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to buprenorphine.

To make sure Buprenex is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • any type of breathing problem or lung disease;

  • a head injury, brain tumor, or seizures;

  • alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness;

  • urination problems;

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • a heart rhythm disorder (especially if you take medication to treat it);

  • long QT syndrome (in you or a family member);

  • an electrolyte imbalance (such as low levels of potassium or magnesium in your blood);

  • abnormal curvature of the spine that affects breathing;

  • Addison's disease (adrenal gland disorder); or

  • problems with your gallbladder, pancreas, or thyroid.

Some medicines can interact with Buprenex and cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Be sure your doctor knows if you also take stimulant medicine, herbal products, or medicine for depression, mental illness, Parkinson's disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting. Ask your doctor before making any changes in how or when you take your medications.

If you use Buprenex while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Buprenex can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not breast-feed while you are using Buprenex.

How should I use Buprenex?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Buprenorphine can slow or stop your breathing, especially when you start using this medicine or whenever your dose is changed. Never use Buprenex in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.

Buprenorphine may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Selling or giving away Buprenex is against the law.

Buprenex is injected into a muscle or into a vein through an IV. You may be shown how to use injections at home. Do not give yourself this medicine if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles, syringes, IV tubing, and other items used to inject the medicine.

Buprenex is usually given at evenly spaced intervals, up to 6 hours apart. Tell your doctor if Buprenex does not relieve your pain within 1 hour after an injection.

This medicine can cause irritation if it gets on your skin. If this occurs, remove any clothing the medicine has spilled onto, and rinse your skin with water.

Prepare your dose in a syringe or IV only when you are ready to give yourself an injection. Do not use the medicine if it has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.

Use a disposable needle and syringe only once. Follow any state or local laws about throwing away used needles and syringes. Use a puncture-proof "sharps" disposal container (ask your pharmacist where to get one and how to throw it away). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using Buprenex. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

Do not stop using Buprenex suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Keep track of your medicine. Buprenorphine is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.

Do not keep leftover opioid medication. Just one dose can cause death in someone using this medicine accidentally or improperly. Ask your pharmacist where to locate a drug take-back disposal program. If there is no take-back program, flush the unused medicine down the toilet.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since Buprenex is used for pain, you are not likely to miss a dose. Skip any missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of Buprenex can be fatal, especially in a person using the medicine without a prescription. Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness or weakness, cold or clammy skin, slow heart rate, weak pulse, very slow breathing, or coma.

What should I avoid while using Buprenex?

Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death could occur.

This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how Buprenex will affect you. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.

Buprenex side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Like other narcotic medicines, Buprenex can slow your breathing. Death may occur if breathing becomes too weak.

A person caring for you should seek emergency medical attention if you have slow breathing with long pauses, blue colored lips, or if you are hard to wake up.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • noisy breathing, sighing, shallow breathing;

  • slow heartbeat or weak pulse;

  • blue lips or fingernails;

  • confusion, feelings of extreme happiness;

  • little or no urination; or

  • low cortisol levels-- nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, worsening tiredness or weakness.

Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults and those who are overweight, malnourished, or debilitated.

Long-term use of opioid medication may affect fertility (ability to have children) in men or women. It is not known whether opioid effects on fertility are permanent.

Common side effects may include:

  • drowsiness;

  • dizziness, spinning sensation;

  • nausea, vomiting;

  • increased sweating;

  • headache; or

  • blurred vision, double vision.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Buprenex?

Narcotic (opioid) medication can interact with many other drugs and cause dangerous side effects or death. Be sure your doctor knows if you also use:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with buprenorphine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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