Subutex Side Effects
Generic Name: buprenorphine
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 7, 2020.
Note: This document contains side effect information about buprenorphine. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Subutex.
For the Consumer
Applies to buprenorphine: film, tablet
Other dosage forms:
Buccal mucosa route (Film)
Addiction, Abuse, and MisuseBuprenorphine exposes patients and other users to the risks of opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. Assess each patient's risk prior to prescribing buprenorphine, and monitor all patients regularly for the development of these behaviors or conditions.Opioid Analgesic Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS)To ensure that the benefits of opioid analgesics outweigh the risks of addiction, abuse and misuse, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required a REMS for these products. Under the requirements of the REMS, drug companies with approved opioid analgesic products must make REMS-compliant education programs available to healthcare providers. Healthcare providers are strongly encouraged to: complete a REMS-compliant education program, counsel patients and/or their caregivers, with every prescription, on safe use, serious risks, storage, and disposal of these products, emphasize to patients and their caregivers the importance of reading the Medication Guide every time it is provided by their pharmacists, and consider other tools to improve patient, household, and community safety.Life-Threatening Respiratory DepressionSerious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression may occur with use of buprenorphine. Monitor for respiratory depression, especially during initiation of buprenorphine or following a dose increase. Misuse or abuse of buprenorphine by chewing, swallowing, snorting or injecting buprenorphine extracted from the buccal film will result in the uncontrolled delivery of buprenorphine and pose a significant risk of overdose and death.Accidental ExposureAccidental exposure to even one dose of buprenorphine, especially by children, can result in a fatal overdose of buprenorphine.Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal SyndromeProlonged use of buprenorphine during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated, and requires management according to protocols developed by neonatology experts. If opioid use is required for a prolonged period in a pregnant woman, advise the patient of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available.Risks from Concomitant Use with Benzodiazepines or Other CNS DepressantsReserve concomitant prescribing of buprenorphine and benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate. Limit dosages and durations to the minimum required. Follow patients for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation.
Side effects requiring immediate medical attention
Along with its needed effects, buprenorphine (the active ingredient contained in Subutex) 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 while taking buprenorphine:
- Bladder pain
- bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
- bloody or cloudy urine
- blurred vision
- cough producing mucus
- difficult, burning, or painful urination
- difficulty breathing
- frequent urge to urinate
- loss of appetite
- lower back or side pain
- mouth or throat pain
- pale skin
- pounding in the ears
- rapid weight gain
- slow or fast heartbeat
- stomach pain
- tightness in the chest
- tingling of the hands or feet
- troubled breathing with exertion
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- unusual weight gain or loss
- Breakdown or tearing of the skin
- irregular heartbeat, recurrent
- irritation, itching, pain, redness, swelling, tenderness, or warmth on the skin
- unusual drowsiness, dullness, or feeling of sluggishness
Incidence not known
- burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
- blurred vision
- darkening of the skin
- difficulty swallowing
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- headache, severe and throbbing
- hives, skin rash
- irregular, fast, slow, or shallow breathing
- mental depression
- overactive reflexes
- pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
- pinpoint pupils
- poor coordination
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- relaxed and calm feeling
- talking or acting with excitement you cannot control
- trembling or shaking
Side effects not requiring immediate medical attention
Some side effects of buprenorphine 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:
- Back pain
- difficulty having a bowel movement
- painful or difficult urination
- runny nose
- stuffy nose
- trouble sleeping
- back pain
- decreased appetite
- feeling of warmth or heat
- flushing or redness of the skin, especially on the face and neck
- itching, skin rash
- muscle aches or spams
- pain or tenderness around eyes and cheekbones
- sore throat
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
Very common (10% or more): Rhinitis (up to 15%)
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%)
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
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Pustules, vesicles
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]
Very common (10% or more): Headache (up to 34%)
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
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
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
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Allergic reaction
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Anaphylactic responses
Common (1% to 10%): Increased ALT, increased AST, increased gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)
Rare (less than 0.1%): Biliary colic
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
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]
1. "Product Information. Butrans (buprenorphine)." Purdue Pharma LP, Stamford, CT.
2. "Product Information. Subutex (buprenorphine)." Reckitt and Colman Pharmaceuticals Inc, Richmond, VA.
3. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0
4. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0
5. "Product Information. Sublocade (buprenorphine)." Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc, Richmond, VA.
6. "Product Information. Buprenex (buprenorphine)." Reckitt and Colman Pharmaceutical, Richmond, VA.
7. "Product Information. Probuphine (buprenorphine)." Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, Princeton, NJ.
Frequently asked questions
- How long does Suboxone stay in your system?
- How long does Subutex stay in your system?
- Round white pill with 8 on one side and an arrow on the other side. Is it Subutex 8 mg?
- Is buprenorphine an opiate / narcotic?
- Does it help with pain?
- Is buprenorphine the same as Suboxone?
- Can you take Subutex with opioids in your system?
- What are the different brands of buprenorphine?
- What are the different types of buprenorphine/naloxone?
- How long does Sublocade last?
- How long do you take it for?
- Is Buprenex safe for humans?
- How long does Sublocade take to work?
- Does Sublocade have naloxone in it?
- Is Sublocade a controlled substance?
More about Subutex (buprenorphine)
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Patient Tips
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Support Group
- En Español
- 124 Reviews
- Generic Availability
- FDA Alerts (3)
Related treatment guides
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.