Buprenorphine is primarily an analgesic drug, which has opiate characteristics. It has both agonist and antagonist reactions in the body. The drug is used to help patients overcome opioid addiction. The drugs having Buprenorphine are marketed as Subutex and Suboxone. These are high dosage pills and sublingual in nature, primarily used in treatment of opioid addictions. In more recent times, the drug Buprenorphine is used for chronic pain treatments as a more transdermal formula.

Opiod addiction treatments

Buprenorphine is used in treatment of opioid addictions. Two predominant drugs used for this purpose include Suboxone and Subutex. The drug Subutex is white in color and bitter in taste. It has no additive active ingredients in it apart from Buprenorphine. The other drug is called Suboxone and is orangish in color. It has a lemon flavor to it and has a 1:4 ratio of naloxone and Buprenorphine.

The shape of this latter tablet is hexagonal in nature. The dosage of the tablets is available in both 2 as well as 8 mg formats. The drug Suboxone is perceived by many to be more effective because of the presence of naxolone. This is an opiod antagonist drug and prevents further abuse of the drug by using intravenous injections. If patients try to take the drug intravenously they will experience bad withdrawal symptoms. However, if taken in a sublingual manner there are no such side effects.

Transdermal formulations

Buprenorphine is also currently available in the form of transdermal patches. These patches contain concentrates of 35, 52.5 as well as 70 mcg quantities to be administered every hour. The entire dosage is thus provided to the patient via these patches over a course of 72 hours. The trade name for these transdermal formulations is called Transtec and in Europe, it is called Grunenthal.

For severe pains associated with cancer as well as non-cancer diseases, the Buprenorphine transdermal patches work well. When such patients fail to respond to conventional non-opioids, such a patch treatment can prove useful.

Usage and administration

Buprenorphine is primarily administered for the treatment of chronic pain for patients who are not showing improvement with non-opioids. Transdermal formulations of the active pharmaceutical ingredients of Buprenorphine are preferred for chronic pains. For both malignant and cancer pains such patches can prove useful.

In addition, postoperative pains are commonly treated with intravenous formulations of Buprenorphine. The sublingual formulations are used in conjunction with transdermal formulations for patients undergoing basic patch treatment. The reason why Buprenorphine is preferred for treatment of chronic pains is because of its lengthy half-life span, the relative safety aspect of the drug and the positive results shown with a transdermal and sublingual combination of Buprenorphine.

Side effects

Common side effects associated with prolonged intake of Buprenorphine include vomiting and nausea, dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, itchiness, miosis, dryness in mouth, orthostatic hypotension as well as ejaculation problems in males. Urinary retention as well as decrease in libido are also common side effects associated with Buprenorphine intake. Jaundice and hepatitis combinations are found when patients are taking Buprenorphine for extended periods.