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Abuse Potential

BUTRANS contains buprenorphine, an opioid agonist and Schedule III controlled substance with an abuse liability similar to other Schedule III opioids, legal or illicit [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Assess each patient's risk for opioid abuse or addiction prior to prescribing BUTRANS. The risk for opioid abuse is increased in patients with a personal or family history of substance abuse (including drug or alcohol abuse or addiction) or mental illness (e.g., major depressive disorder). Routinely monitor all patients receiving BUTRANS for signs of misuse, abuse, and addiction during treatment [see Drug Abuse and Dependence].

Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression

Respiratory depression, including fatal cases, may occur with use of BUTRANS, even when the drug has been used as recommended and not misused or abused [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Proper dosing and titration are essential and BUTRANS should only be prescribed by healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable in the use of potent opioids for the management of chronic pain. Monitor for respiratory depression, especially during initiation of BUTRANS or following a dose increase.

Accidental Exposure

Accidental exposure to BUTRANS, especially in children, can result in a fatal overdose of buprenorphine [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


BUTRANS is a transdermal system providing systemic delivery of buprenorphine, a mu opioid partial agonist analgesic, continuously for 7 days. The chemical name of buprenorphine is 6,14ethenomorphinan-7-methanol, 17-(cyclopropylmethyl)- α-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-4, 5-epoxy-18, 19dihydro-3-hydroxy-6-methoxy-α-methyl-, [5α, 7α, (S)]. The structural formula is:

BUTRANS (buprenorphine) Structural Formula Illustration

The molecular weight of buprenorphine is 467.6; the empirical formula is C29H41NO4. Buprenorphine occurs as a white or almost white powder and is very slightly soluble in water, freely soluble in acetone, soluble in methanol and ether, and slightly soluble in cyclohexane. The pKa is 8.5 and the melting point is about 217°C.

System Components and Structure

Three different strengths of BUTRANS are available: 5, 10, and 20 mcg/hour (Table 5). The proportion of buprenorphine mixed in the adhesive matrix is the same in each of the 3 strengths. The amount of buprenorphine released from each system per hour is proportional to the active surface area of the system. The skin is the limiting barrier to diffusion from the system into the bloodstream.

Table 5: BUTRANS Product Specifications

Buprenorphine Delivery Rate (mcg/hour) Active Surface Area (cm²) Total Buprenorphine Content (mg)
BUTRANS 5 6.25 5
BUTRANS 10 12.5 10
BUTRANS 20 25 20

BUTRANS is a rectangular or square, beige-colored system consisting of a protective liner and functional layers. Proceeding from the outer surface toward the surface adhering to the skin, the layers are (1) a beige-colored web backing layer; (2) an adhesive rim without buprenorphine; (3) a separating layer over the buprenorphine-containing adhesive matrix; (4) the buprenorphinecontaining adhesive matrix; and (5) a peel-off release liner. Before use, the release liner covering the adhesive layer is removed and discarded.

Figure 1: Cross-Section Diagram of BUTRANS (not to scale)

Cross-Section Diagram of BUTRANS - Illustration

The active ingredient in BUTRANS is buprenorphine. The inactive ingredients in each system are: levulinic acid, oleyl oleate, povidone, and polyacrylate cross-linked with aluminum.

What are the possible side effects of this drug (Butrans)?

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

Stop using buprenorphine and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • slow heart rate, weak or shallow breathing, deep sighs, snoring that is new or unusual;
  • confusion, severe dizziness, feeling like you might pass out;
  • blisters, swelling, or severe irritation where the patch was worn;
  • seizure (convulsions); or
  • nausea, upper stomach pain, loss of...

Read All Potential Side Effects and See Pictures of Butrans »

What are the precautions when taking buprenorphine transdermal system (Butrans)?

Before using buprenorphine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to adhesives; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: brain disorders (such as head injury, tumor, seizures), breathing problems (such as asthma, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD), kidney disease, liver disease, mental/mood disorders (such as confusion, depression), personal or family history of regular use/abuse of drugs/alcohol, stomach/intestinal problems (such as blockage, constipation, diarrhea due to infection, paralytic ileus),...

Read All Potential Precautions of Butrans »

Last reviewed on RxList: 7/19/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.


Butrans - User Reviews

Butrans User Reviews

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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