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Sublocade Side Effects

Generic name: buprenorphine

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Apr 19, 2023.

Note: This document contains side effect information about buprenorphine. Some dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Sublocade.

Applies to buprenorphine: buccal buccally dissolving strips, parenteral conventional injection, parenteral extended-release sub-q injection, parenteral subdermal implants, sublingual sublingual tablets, sublingual sublingually dissolving strips, topical transdermal system.


Special Alerts:

  • FDA drug safety communication (4/13/2023):500 As part of its ongoing efforts to address the nation’s opioid crisis, FDA is requiring several updates to the prescribing information of opioid pain medicines. The changes are being made to provide additional guidance for safe use of these drugs while also recognizing the important benefits when used appropriately. The changes apply to both immediate-release (IR) and extended-release/long-acting preparations (ER/LA).

  • Updates to the IR opioids state that these drugs should not be used for an extended period unless the pain remains severe enough to require an opioid pain medicine and alternative treatment options are insufficient, and that many acute pain conditions treated in the outpatient setting require no more than a few days of an opioid pain medicine.

  • Updates to the ER/LA opioids recommend that these drugs be reserved for severe and persistent pain requiring an extended period of treatment with a daily opioid pain medicine and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate.

  • A new warning is being added about opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH) for both IR and ER/LA opioid pain medicines. This includes information describing the symptoms that differentiate OIH from opioid tolerance and withdrawal.

  • Information in the boxed warning for all IR and ER/LA opioid pain medicines will be updated and reordered to elevate the importance of warnings concerning life-threatening respiratory depression, and risks associated with using opioid pain medicines in conjunction with benzodiazepines or other medicines that depress the central nervous system (CNS).

  • Other changes will also be required in various other sections of the prescribing information to educate clinicians, patients, and caregivers about the risks of these drugs.


FDA approved a REMS for buprenorphine to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risk. (See General under Dosage and Administration.) The REMS may apply to one or more preparations of buprenorphine. See the FDA REMS page ([Web]).

Side effects include:

Conventional parenteral injection for pain relief: Sedation (e.g., drowsiness), dizziness, vertigo, nausea.

Transdermal system for pain relief: Nausea, headache, application site reactions (pruritus, erythema, rash), dizziness, constipation, somnolence, vomiting, dry mouth.

Buccally dissolving strips for pain relief: Nausea, constipation, headache, vomiting, dizziness, somnolence.

Oral transmucosal formulations for opiate dependence: Oral hypoesthesia, glossodynia, oral mucosal erythema, headache, nausea, vomiting, hyperhidrosis, constipation, manifestations of withdrawal, insomnia, pain, peripheral edema. Adverse effects similar following administration as buprenorphine (the active ingredient contained in Sublocade) or buprenorphine/naloxone.

Extended-release sub-Q injection for opiate dependence: Constipation, headache, nausea, injection site reactions (pain, pruritus), vomiting, increased hepatic enzymes concentrations, fatigue.

Subdermal implants for opiate dependence: Implant site reactions (pain, pruritus, erythema), headache, depression, constipation, nausea, vomiting, back pain, toothache, oropharyngeal pain.

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to buprenorphine: buccal film, compounding powder, injectable solution, subcutaneous solution extended release, subdermal implant, sublingual tablet, transdermal film extended release.


The most common adverse reactions have included headache, insomnia, pain, signs and symptoms of withdrawal, nausea, constipation, application site pruritus, application site erythema, vomiting, hyperhidrosis, dizziness, somnolence, dry mouth, and application site rash.[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Insomnia (up to 28%), withdrawal syndrome (up to 24%), anxiety (up to 14%), depression (up to 13%)

Common (1% to 10%): Hostility, agitation, paranoid reaction, thinking abnormal, confusion

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Affect lability, depersonalization, libido decreased, nightmare, euphoric mood, psychosis, hallucination, euphoria

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Dependence, mood swings

Frequency not reported: Dreaming

Postmarketing reports: Neonatal withdrawal syndrome[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Rhinitis (up to 15%)

Common (1% to 10%): Cough increased, pharyngitis, upper respiratory tract infection, influenza, sinusitis, bronchitis, dyspnea, pharyngolaryngeal pain, hypoventilation, yawning

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Asthma aggravated, hiccups, hyperventilation, hypoxia, wheezing, apnea

Rare (less than 0.1%): Respiratory depression, respiratory failure

Postmarketing reports: Asphyxia[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (up to 23%), constipation (up to 14%), abdominal pain (11.7%), diarrhea (up to 10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Vomiting, dyspepsia, dry mouth, stomach discomfort, upper abdominal pain, flatulence

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Diverticulitis, dysphagia, ileus, heartburn

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Retching[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Application site pruritus (up to 15%), sweating (up to 13%), application site erythema (up to 10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Application site rash, application site irritation, hyperhidrosis, pruritus, rash, generalized pruritus

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Contact dermatitis, application site dermatitis, dry skin, facial edema, urticaria, pallor

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Pustules, vesicles

Frequency not reported: Injection site reaction, angioedema, application site edema[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Back pain (up to 16%)

Common (1% to 10%): Arthralgia, pain in extremity, muscle spasm, musculoskeletal pain, joint swelling, neck pain, myalgia, chest pain, leg cramps, bone pain, general spasm, muscle weakness, increased creatine phosphokinase (CPK)

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Muscle cramps, rigors, muscle spasm

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Muscle fasciculation, ear pain[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Pain (up to 26%), asthenia (up to 16%)

Common (1% to 10%): Chills, fever, accidental injury, fatigue, pyrexia, fall, malaise, tiredness, lethargy

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Edema

Frequency not reported: Death[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Infection (up to 22%), flu syndrome (up to 10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Abscess[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (up to 34%)

Common (1% to 10%): Dizziness/vertigo, nervousness, somnolence, hypoesthesia, tremor, migraine, paresthesia, syncope, hypertonia, dysgeusia, exanthema, sedation

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Tinnitus, concentration impairment, coordination abnormal, dysarthria, memory impairment, restlessness, sedation, sleep disorder, slurred speech, coma

Rare (less than 0.1%): Disequilibrium, numbness

Frequency not reported: Convulsions

Postmarketing reports: Neonatal tremor, serotonin syndrome[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Vasodilation, hypotension, peripheral edema, hypertension, palpitations

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Orthostatic hypotension, tachycardia, angina pectoris, flushing, bradycardia, cyanosis, , QT prolongation

Frequency not reported: Wenckebach block[Ref]

QT prolongation has been observed. In clinical trials of buprenorphine buccal film (n=1590), post-baseline QTcF values of 450 to 480 milliseconds were observed in 2% of patients at doses up to 900 mcg every 12 hours. In a QT study in healthy subjects, therapeutic doses (10 mcg/hour transdermal patch) had no effect on the QTc interval, but higher doses (40 mcg/hour) were associated with a mean prolongation of 5.9 milliseconds.

During clinical trials, serial ECGs were collected to evaluate the effect of extended-release subcutaneous administration of buprenorphine on QT prolongation. Seven patients showed a greater than 60 msec increase QTc from baseline. One patient had a QTc greater than 500 msec. These QTc findings were reported as sporadic and transient and none led to aberrant ventricular rhythm. Review of ECG and adverse event data showed no evidence of syncope, seizure, or ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Runny eyes, miosis, mydriasis, lacrimation disorder

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Dry eye, vision blurred, conjunctivitis

Rare (less than 0.1%): Eyelid edema, visual disturbance

Frequency not reported: Diplopia, visual abnormalities, amblyopia[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Urinary tract infection, dysmenorrhea

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Urinary incontinence, urinary retention

Rare (less than 0.1%): Urinary hesitation, decreased erection, sexual dysfunction[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Anorexia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Dehydration, loss of appetite, weight decreased

Postmarketing reports: Neonatal feeding disorder[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Lymphadenopathy


Anaphylaxis has been reported with ingredients contained in the implant. Anaphylaxis has been reported with ingredients contained in extended-release subcutaneous injection.[Ref]

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Allergic reaction

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Anaphylactic responses

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Serious allergic reactions[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Increased ALT, increased AST, increased gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)

Rare (less than 0.1%): Biliary colic

Frequency not reported: Hepatitis, jaundice, hepatic failure, hepatic necrosis, hepatorenal syndrome, hepatic encephalopathy, transaminases increased[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Implant site pain (13%), implant site pruritus (12%), implant site erythema (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): implant site hematoma, implant site hemorrhage, implant site edema, injection site pain, injection site pruritus, injection site erythema, injection site induration

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Injection site bruising, injection site swelling, injection site discomfort, injection site reaction, injection site cellulitis, injection site infection[Ref]



Postmarketing reports: Adrenal insufficiency, androgen deficiency[Ref]

Cases of androgen deficiency have been reported with chronic use of opioids. Adrenal insufficiency has been reported with opioid use, especially with use of 1 month or longer.[Ref]

Frequently asked questions


1. Product Information. Subutex (buprenorphine). Reckitt and Colman Pharmaceuticals Inc. 2002.

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. UK Summary of Product Characteristics.

3. Cerner Multum, Inc. Australian Product Information.

4. Product Information. Butrans (buprenorphine). Purdue Pharma LP. 2010.

5. Product Information. Sublocade (buprenorphine). Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc. 2018.

6. Product Information. Buprenex (buprenorphine). Reckitt and Colman Pharmaceuticals Inc. 2001.

7. Product Information. Probuphine (buprenorphine). Braeburn Pharmaceuticals. 2016.

Further information

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

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.