(buprenorphine) Sublingual Tablet
SUBUTEX (buprenorphine) sublingual tablet is an uncoated oval white flat bevelled edged tablet, debossed with an alphanumeric word identifying the product and strength on one side. It contains buprenorphine HCl, a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptor, and is available in two dosage strengths, 2 mg buprenorphine and 8 mg buprenorphine (as the free base, equivalent to 2.16 mg buprenorphine hydrochloride USP and 8.64 mg buprenorphine hydrochloride USP). Each tablet also contains lactose, mannitol, cornstarch, povidone K30, citric acid, sodium citrate and magnesium stearate.
Chemically, buprenorphine HCl is (2S)-2-[17-Cyclopropylmethyl-4,5α-epoxy-3-hydroxy-6-methoxy6α,14-ethano-14α-morphinan-7α-yl]-3,3-dimethylbutan-2-ol hydrochloride. It has the following chemical structure:
Buprenorphine HCl has the molecular formula C29H41NO4 • HCl and the molecular weight is 504.10. It is a white or off-white crystalline powder, sparingly soluble in water, freely soluble in methanol, soluble in alcohol and practically insoluble in cyclohexane.
What are the possible side effects of buprenorphine (Subutex)?
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.
Like other narcotic medicines, buprenorphine can slow your breathing. Death may occur if breathing becomes too weak.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
- slow or shallow breathing;
- feeling light-headed, fainting;
- confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior; or
- nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools,...
SUBUTEX sublingual tablet is indicated for the treatment of opioid dependence and is preferred for induction. SUBUTEX sublingual tablet should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support.
Under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) codified at 21 U.S.C. 823(g), prescription use of this product in the treatment of opioid dependence is limited to healthcare providers who meet certain qualifying requirements, and who have notified the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) of their intent to prescribe this product for the treatment of opioid dependence and have been assigned a unique identification number that must be included on every prescription.
DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION
Important Dosage And Administration Instructions
SUBUTEX sublingual tablet is administered sublingually as a single daily dose. SUBUTEX sublingual tablet contains no naloxone and is preferred for use only during induction. Following induction, SUBOXONE sublingual film or SUBOXONE sublingual tablet is preferred due to the presence of naloxone when clinical use includes unsupervised administration. The use of SUBUTEX sublingual tablet for unsupervised administration should be limited to those patients who cannot tolerate SUBOXONE sublingual film or SUBOXONE sublingual tablet; for example, those patients who have been shown to be hypersensitive to naloxone.
Medication should be prescribed in consideration of the frequency of visits. Provision of multiple refills is not advised early in treatment or without appropriate patient follow-up visits.
Prior to induction, consideration should be given to the type of opioid dependence (i.e., long-or short-acting opioid), the time since last opioid use, and the degree or level of opioid dependence.
Patients Taking Heroin Or Other Short-Acting Opioid Products
The first dose of SUBUTEX sublingual tablet should only be administered when objective and clear signs of moderate opioid withdrawal appear, and not less than 4 hours after the patient last used an opioid.
It is recommended that an adequate treatment dose, titrated to clinical effectiveness, should be achieved as rapidly as possible. The dosing on the initial day of treatment may be given in 2 mg to 4 mg increments if preferred. In some studies, gradual induction over several days led to a high rate of dropout of buprenorphine patients during the induction period.
In a one-month study, patients received 8 mg of SUBUTEX sublingual tablet on Day 1 and 16 mg SUBUTEX sublingual tablet on Day 2. From Day 3 onward, patients received either SUBOXONE sublingual tablet or SUBUTEX sublingual tablet at the same buprenorphine dose as Day 2 based on their assigned treatment. Induction in the studies of buprenorphine solution was accomplished over 3-4 days, depending on the target dose.
Patients On Methadone Or Other Long-Acting Opioid Products
Patients dependent upon methadone or other long-acting opioid products may be more susceptible to precipitated and prolonged withdrawal during induction than those on short-acting opioid products; therefore, the first dose of SUBUTEX sublingual tablet should only be administered when objective and clear signs of moderate opioid withdrawal appear, and generally not less than 24 hours after the patient last used a long-acting opioid product.
There is little controlled experience with the transfer of methadone-maintained patients to buprenorphine. Available evidence suggests that withdrawal signs and symptoms are possible during induction onto buprenorphine. Withdrawal appears more likely in patients maintained on higher doses of methadone (>30 mg) and when the first buprenorphine dose is administered shortly after the last methadone dose.
- SUBOXONE is preferred for maintenance treatment.
- Where SUBUTEX is used in maintenance in patients who cannot tolerate the presence of naloxone, the dosage of SUBUTEX should be progressively adjusted in increments / decrements of 2 mg or 4 mg buprenorphine to a level that holds the patient in treatment and suppresses opioid withdrawal signs and symptoms.
- After treatment induction and stabilization, the maintenance dose of SUBUTEX is generally in the range of 4 mg to 24 mg buprenorphine per day depending on the individual patient. The recommended target dosage of SUBUTEX is 16 mg as a single daily dose. Dosages higher than 24 mg have not been demonstrated to provide any clinical advantage.
- When determining the prescription quantity for unsupervised administration, consider the patient's level of stability, the security of his or her home situation, and other factors likely to affect the ability to manage supplies of take-home medication.
- There is no maximum recommended duration of maintenance treatment. Patients may require treatment indefinitely and should continue for as long as patients are benefiting and the use of SUBUTEX contributes to the intended treatment goals.
Method Of Administration
SUBUTEX sublingual tablet should be placed under the tongue until it is dissolved. For doses requiring the use of more than two tablets, patients are advised to either place all the tablets at once or alternatively (if they cannot fit in more than two tablets comfortably), place two tablets at a time under the tongue. Either way, the patients should continue to hold the tablets under the tongue until they dissolve; swallowing the tablets reduces the bioavailability of the drug. To ensure consistency in bioavailability, patients should follow the same manner of dosing with continued use of the product. Do not chew or swallow SUBUTEX sublingual tablets.
Proper administration technique should be demonstrated to the patient.
Treatment should be initiated with supervised administration, progressing to unsupervised administration as the patient's clinical stability permits. The use of SU UTEX for unsupervised administration should be limited to those patients who cannot tolerate SUBOXONE, for example those patients with known hypersensitivity to naloxone. SUBOXONE and SUBUTEX are both subject to diversion and abuse. When determining the size of the prescription quantity for unsupervised administration, consider the patient's level of stability, the security of his or her home situation, and other factors likely to affect the ability of the patient to manage supplies of take-home medication.
Ideally, patients should be seen at reasonable intervals (e.g., at least weekly during the first month of treatment) based upon the individual circumstances of the patient. Medication should be prescribed in consideration of the frequency of visits. Provision of multiple refills is not advised early in treatment or without appropriate patient follow-up visits. Periodic assessment is necessary to determine compliance with the dosing regimen, effectiveness of the treatment plan, and overall patient progress.
Once a stable dosage has been achieved and patient assessment (e.g., urine drug screening) does not indicate illicit drug use, less frequent follow-up visits may be appropriate. A once-monthly visit schedule may be reasonable for patients on a stable dosage of medication who are making progress toward their treatment objectives. Continuation or modification of pharmacotherapy should be based on the healthcare provider's evaluation of treatment outcomes and objectives such as:
- Absence of medication toxicity.
- Absence of medical or behavioral adverse effects.
- Responsible handling of medications by the patient.
- Patient's compliance with all elements of the treatment plan (including recovery-oriented activities, psychotherapy, and/or other psychosocial modalities).
- Abstinence from illicit drug use (including problematic alcohol and/or benzodiazepine use).
If treatment goals are not being achieved, the healthcare provider should re-evaluate the appropriateness of continuing the current treatment.
Patients With Hepatic Impairment
Severe hepatic impairment: Consider reducing the starting and titration incremental dose by half compared to patients with normal liver function, and monitor for signs and symptoms of toxicity or overdose caused by increased levels of buprenorphine.
Moderate hepatic impairment: Although no dose adjustment is necessary for patients with moderate hepatic impairment, SUBUTEX sublingual tablets should be used with caution in these patients and prescribers should monitor patients for signs and symptoms of toxicity or overdose caused by increased levels of buprenorphine.
Mild hepatic impairment: No clinically significant differences in pharmacokinetic parameters were observed in subjects with mild hepatic impairment. No dose adjustment is needed in patients with mild hepatic impairment [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Healthcare providers will need to decide when they cannot appropriately provide further management for particular patients. For example, some patients may be abusing or dependent on various drugs, or unresponsive to psychosocial intervention such that the healthcare provider does not feel that he/she has the expertise to manage the patient. In such cases, the healthcare provider may want to assess whether to refer the patient to a specialist or more intensive behavioral treatment environment. Decisions should be based on a treatment plan established and agreed upon with the patient at the beginning of treatment.
Patients who continue to misuse, abuse, or divert buprenorphine products or other opioids should be provided with, or referred to, more intensive and structured treatment.
The decision to discontinue therapy with SUBOXONE or SUBUTEX after a period of maintenance should be made as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Advise patients of the potential to relapse to illicit drug use following discontinuation of opioid agonist/partial agonist medication-assisted treatment. Taper patients to reduce the occurrence of withdrawal signs and symptoms [See WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Dosage Forms And Strengths
SUBUTEX sublingual tablet is supplied as an uncoated oval white tablet in two dosage strengths:
- buprenorphine 2 mg, and
- buprenorphine 8 mg
Storage And Handling
SUBUTEX sublingual tablet is an uncoated oval white flat bevelled edged tablet, debossed with an alphanumeric word identifying the product and strength on one side (“ 2” and “ 8” on 2 mg and8 mg tablets respectively), supplied in desiccated high density polyethylene (HDPE) bottle:
NDC 12496-1278-2 (buprenorphine 2 mg/sublingual tablet; content expressed in terms of free base, equivalent to 2.16 mg buprenorphine hydrochloride USP) -30 tablets per bottle
NDC 12496-1310-2 (buprenorphine 8 mg/sublingual tablet; content expressed in terms of free base, equivalent to 8.64 mg buprenorphine hydrochloride USP) -30 tablets per bottle
Store at 25°C (77°F), excursions permitted to 15°-30°C (59°-86°F). [see USP Controlled Room Temperature].
Patients should be advised to store buprenorphine-containing medications safely and out of sight and reach of children. Destroy any unused medication appropriately. [see PATIENT INFORMATION]
Manufactured by: Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare (UK) Ltd. Hull, UK, HU8 7DS. Distributed by: Indivior Inc. Richmond, VA 23235. Revised: Sep 2017
Clinical Trials Experience
Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.
The safety of SUBUTEX sublingual tablet was supported by clinical trials using SUBUTEX sublingual tablet, SUBOXONE (buprenorphine/naloxone sublingual tablet) and other trials using buprenorphine sublingual solutions. In total, safety data were available from 3214 opioid-dependent subjects exposed to buprenorphine at doses in the range used in treatment of opioid addiction.
Few differences in adverse event profile were noted between SUBUTEX or buprenorphine administered as a sublingual solution.
The following adverse events were reported to occur by at least 5% of patients in a 4-week study (Table 1).
Table 1: Adverse Events ≥ 5% by Body System and
Treatment Group in a 4-week study
|Body System / Adverse Event (COSTART Terminology)||N (%)
SUBUTEX 16 mg/day
|Body as a Whole|
|Asthenia||5 (4.9%)||7 (6.5%)|
|Chills||8 (7.8%)||8 (7.5%)|
|Headache||30 (29.1%)||24 (22.4%)|
|Infection||12 (11.7%)||7 (6.5%)|
|Pain||19 (18.4%)||20 (18.7%)|
|Pain Abdomen||12 (11.7%)||7 (6.5%)|
|Pain Back||8 (7.8%)||12 (11.2%)|
|Withdrawal Syndrome||19 (18.4%)||40 (37.4%)|
|Vasodilation||4 (3.9%)||7 (6.5%)|
|Constipation||8 (7.8%)||3 (2.8%)|
|Diarrhea||5 (4.9%)||16 (15.0%)|
|Nausea||14 (13.6%)||12 (11.2%)|
|Vomiting||8 (7.8%)||5 (4.7%)|
|Insomnia||22 (21.4%)||17 (15.9%)|
|Rhinitis||10 (9.7%)||14 (13.1%)|
|Skin and Appendages|
|Sweating||13 (12.6%)||11 (10.3%)|
The adverse event profile of buprenorphine was also characterized in the dose-controlled study of buprenorphine solution, over a range of doses in four months of treatment. Table 2 shows adverse events reported by at least 5% of subjects in any dose group in the dose-controlled study.
Table 2: Adverse Events (≥ 5%) by Body System
and Treatment Group in a 16-week Study
|Body System /Adverse Event (COSTART Terminology)||Buprenorphine Dose*|
(N=184) N (%)
(N=180) N (%)
(N=186) N (%)
(N=181) N (%)
(N=731) N (%)
|*Sublingual solution. Doses in this table cannot necessarily be delivered in tablet form, but for comparison purposes: “Very low” dose (1 mg solution) would be less than a tablet dose of 2 mg “Low” dose (4 mg solution) approximates a 6 mg tablet dose “Moderate” dose (8 mg solution) approximates a 12 mg tablet dose “High” dose (16 mg solution) approximates a 24 mg tablet dose|
|Body as a Whole|
|Abscess||9 (5%)||2 (1%)||3 (2%)||2 (1%)||16 (2%)|
|Asthenia||26 (14%)||28 (16%)||26 (14%)||24 (13%)||104 (14%)|
|Chills||11 (6%)||12 (7%)||9 (5%)||10 (6%)||42 (6%)|
|Fever||7 (4%)||2 (1%)||2 (1%)||10 (6%)||21 (3%)|
|Flu Syndrome||4 (2%)||13 (7%)||19 (10%)||8 (4%)||44 (6%)|
|Headache||51 (28%)||62 (34%)||54 (29%)||53 (29%)||220 (30%)|
|Infection||32 (17%)||39 (22%)||38 (20%)||40 (22%)||149 (20%)|
|Injury Accidental||5 (3%)||10 (6%)||5 (3%)||5 (3%)||25 (3%)|
|Pain||47 (26%)||37 (21%)||49 (26%)||44 (24%)||177 (24%)|
|Pain Back||18 (10%)||29 (16%)||28 (15%)||27 (15%)||102 (14%)|
|Withdrawal Syndrome||45 (24%)||40 (22%)||41 (22%)||36 (20%)||162 (22%)|
|Constipation||10 (5%)||23 (13%)||23 (12%)||26 (14%)||82 (11%)|
|Diarrhea||19 (10%)||8 (4%)||9 (5%)||4 (2%)||40 (5%)|
|Dyspepsia||6 (3%)||10 (6%)||4 (2%)||4 (2%)||24 (3%)|
|Nausea||12 (7%)||22 (12%)||23 (12%)||18 (10%)||75 (10%)|
|Vomiting||8 (4%)||6 (3%)||10 (5%)||14 (8%)||38 (5%)|
|Anxiety||22 (12%)||24 (13%)||20 (11%)||25 (14%)||91 (12%)|
|Depression||24 (13%)||16 (9%)||25 (13%)||18 (10%)||83 (11%)|
|Dizziness||4 (2%)||9 (5%)||7 (4%)||11 (6%)||31 (4%)|
|Insomnia||42 (23%)||50 (28%)||43 (23%)||51 (28%)||186 (25%)|
|Nervousness||12 (7%)||11 (6%)||10 (5%)||13 (7%)||46 (6%)|
|Somnolence||5 (3%)||13 (7%)||9 (5%)||11 (6%)||38 (5%)|
|Cough Increase||5 (3%)||11 (6%)||6 (3%)||4 (2%)||26 (4%)|
|Pharyngitis||6 (3%)||7 (4%)||6 (3%)||9 (5%)||28 (4%)|
|Rhinitis||27 (15%)||16 (9%)||15 (8%)||21 (12%)||79 (11%)|
|Skin and Appendages|
|Sweat||23 (13%)||21 (12%)||20 (11%)||23 (13%)||87 (12%)|
|Runny Eyes||13 (7%)||9 (5%)||6 (3%)||6 (3%)||34 (5%)|
The following adverse reactions have been identified during post approval use of buprenorphine. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.
The most frequently reported post-marketing adverse events with SUBUTEX not observed in clinical trials, excluding drug exposure during pregnancy, was drug misuse or abuse.
Cases of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition, have been reported during concomitant use of opioids with serotonergic drugs.
Cases of adrenal insufficiency have been reported with opioid use, more often following greater than one month of use.
Anaphylaxis has been reported with ingredients contained in SUBUTEX.
Table 3 : Includes clinically significant drug
interactions with SUBUTEX
|Clinical Impact:||There have been a number of reports regarding coma and death associated with the misuse and abuse of the combination of buprenorphine and benzodiazepines. In many, but not all of these cases, buprenorphine was misused by self-injection of crushed buprenorphine tablets. Preclinical studies have shown that the combination of benzodiazepines and buprenorphine altered the usual ceiling effect on buprenorphine-induced respiratory depression, making the respiratory effects of buprenorphine appear similar to those of full opioid agonists.|
|Intervention:||Closely monitor patients with concurrent use of SUBUTEX and benzodiazepines. Warn patients that it is extremely dangerous to self-administer benzodiazepines while taking SUBUTEX, and warn patients to use benzodiazepines concurrently with SUBUTEX only as directed by their healthcare provider.|
|Non-Benzodiazepine Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants|
|Clinical Impact:||Due to additive pharmacologic effects, the concomitant use of nonbenzodiazepine CNS depressants, including alcohol, can increase the risk of hypotension, respiratory depression, profound sedation, coma, and death.|
|Intervention:||Reserve concomitant prescribing of these drugs for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate. Limit dosages and durations to the minimum required. Follow patients closely for signs of respiratory depression and sedation [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].|
|Examples:||Alcohol, non-benzodiazepine sedatives/hypnotics, anxiolytics, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, general anesthetics, antipsychotics, and other opioids.|
|Inhibitors of CYP3A4|
|Clinical Impact:||The concomitant use of buprenorphine and CYP3A4 inhibitors can increase the plasma concentration of buprenorphine, resulting in increased or prolonged opioid effects, particularly when an inhibitor is added after a stable dose of SUBUTEX is achieved. After stopping a CYP3A4 inhibitor, as the effects of the inhibitor decline, the buprenorphine plasma concentration will decrease [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY], potentially resulting in decreased opioid efficacy or a withdrawal syndrome in patients who had developed physical dependence to buprenorphine.|
|Intervention:||If concomitant use is necessary, consider dosage reduction of SUBUTEX until stable drug effects are achieved. Monitor patients for respiratory depression and sedation at frequent intervals. If a CYP3A4 inhibitor is discontinued, consider increasing the SUBUTEX dosage until stable drug effects are achieved. Monitor for signs of opioid withdrawal.|
|Examples:||Macrolide antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin), azole-antifungal agents (e.g. ketoconazole), protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir)|
|Clinical Impact:||The concomitant use of buprenorphine and CYP3A4 inducers can decrease the plasma concentration of buprenorphine [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY], potentially resulting in decreased efficacy or onset of a withdrawal syndrome in patients who have developed physical dependence to buprenorphine. After stopping a CYP3A4 inducer, as the effects of the inducer decline, the buprenorphine plasma concentration will increase [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY], which could increase or prolong both therapeutic effects and adverse reactions and may cause serious respiratory depression.|
|Intervention:||If concomitant use is necessary, consider increasing the SUBUTEX dosage until stable drug effects are achieved. Monitor for signs of opioid withdrawal. If a CYP3A4 inducer is discontinued, consider SUBUTEX dosage reduction and monitor for signs of respiratory depression.|
|Examples:||Rifampin, carbamazepine, phenytoin|
|Antiretrovirals: Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)|
|Clinical Impact:||Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) are metabolized principally by CYP3A4. Efavirenz, nevirapine, and etravirine are known CYP3A inducers, whereas delaviridine is a CYP3A inhibitor. Significant pharmacokinetic interactions between NNRTIs (e.g., efavirenz and delavirdine) and buprenorphine have been shown in clinical studies, but these pharmacokinetic interactions did not result in any significant pharmacodynamic effects.|
|Intervention:||Patients who are on chronic SUBUTEX treatment should have their dose monitored if NNRTIs are added to their treatment regimen.|
|Examples:||efavirenz, nevirapine, etravirine, delavirdine|
|Antiretrovirals: Protease inhibitors (PIs)|
|Clinical Impact:||Studies have shown some antiretroviral protease inhibitors (PIs) with CYP3A4 inhibitory activity (nelfinavir, lopinavir/ritonavir, ritonavir) have little effect on buprenorphine pharmacokinetic and no significant pharmacodynamic effects. Other PIs with CYP3A4 inhibitory activity (atazanavir and atazanavir/ritonavir) resulted in elevated levels of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine, and patients in one study reported increased sedation. Symptoms of opioid excess have been found in post-marketing reports of patients receiving buprenorphine and atazanavir with and without ritonavir concomitantly.|
|Intervention:||Monitor patients taking SUBUTEX and atazanavir with and without ritonavir, and reduce dose of SUBUTEX if warranted.|
|Antiretrovirals: Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)|
|Clinical Impact:||Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) do not appear to induce or inhibit the P450 enzyme pathway, thus no interactions with buprenorphine are expected.|
|Clinical Impact:||The concomitant use of opioids with other drugs that affect the serotonergic neurotransmitter system has resulted in serotonin syndrome.|
|Intervention:||If concomitant use is warranted, carefully observe the patient, particularly during treatment initiation and dose adjustment. Discontinue SUBUTEX if serotonin syndrome is suspected.|
|Examples:||Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), triptans, 5-HT3 receptor antagonists, drugs that affect the serotonin neurotransmitter system (e.g., mirtazapine, trazodone, tramadol), monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors (those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as linezolid and intravenous methylene blue).|
|Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)|
|Clinical Impact:||MAOI interactions with opioids may manifest as serotonin syndrome or opioid toxicity (e.g., respiratory depression, coma).|
|Intervention:||The use of SUBUTEX is not recommended for patients taking MAOIs or within 14 days of stopping such treatment.|
|Examples:||phenelzine, tranylcypromine, linezolid|
|Clinical Impact:||Buprenorphine may enhance the neuromuscular blocking action of skeletal muscle relaxants and produce an increased degree of respiratory depression.|
|Intervention:||Monitor patients receiving muscle relaxants and SUBUTEX for signs of respiratory depression that may be greater than otherwise expected and decrease the dosage of SUBUTEX and/or the muscle relaxant as necessary.|
|Clinical Impact:||Opioids can reduce the efficacy of diuretics by inducing the release of antidiuretic hormone.|
|Intervention:||Monitor patients for signs of diminished diuresis and/or effects on blood pressure and increase the dosage of the diuretic as needed.|
|Clinical Impact:||The concomitant use of anticholinergic drugs may increase the risk of urinary retention and/or severe constipation, which may lead to paralytic ileus.|
|Intervention:||Monitor patients for signs of urinary retention or reduced gastric motility when SUBUTEX is used concomitantly with anticholinergic drugs.|
Drug Abuse And Dependence
Buprenorphine is a Schedule III narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. Under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) codified at 21 U.S.C. 823(g), prescription use of this product in the treatment of opioid dependence is limited to healthcare providers who meet certain qualifying requirements, and who have notified the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) of their intent to prescribe this product for the treatment of opioid dependence and have been assigned a unique identification number that must be included on every prescription.
Buprenorphine, like morphine and other opioids, has the potential for being abused and is subject to criminal diversion. This should be considered when prescribing or dispensing buprenorphine in situations when the clinician is concerned about an increased risk of misuse, abuse, or diversion. Healthcare professionals should contact their state professional licensing board or state controlled substances authority for information on how to prevent and detect abuse or diversion of this product.
Patients who continue to misuse, abuse, or divert, buprenorphine products or other opioids should be provided or referred for more intensive and structured treatment.
Abuse of buprenorphine poses a risk of overdose and death. This risk is increased with the abuse of buprenorphine and alcohol and other substances, especially benzodiazepines.
The healthcare provider may be able to more easily detect misuse or diversion by maintaining records of medication prescribed including date, dose, quantity, frequency of refills, and renewal requests of medication prescribed.
Proper assessment of the patient, proper prescribing practices, periodic re-evaluation of therapy, and proper handling and storage of the medication are appropriate measures that help to limit abuse of opioid drugs.
Buprenorphine is a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptor and chronic administration produces physical dependence of the opioid type, characterized by moderate withdrawal signs and symptoms upon abrupt discontinuation or rapid taper. The withdrawal syndrome is typically milder than seen with full agonists and may be delayed in onset. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.
Buprenorphine can be abused in a manner similar to other opioids, legal or illicit. Prescribe and dispense buprenorphine with appropriate precautions to minimize risk of misuse, abuse, or diversion, and ensure appropriate protection from theft, including in the home. Clinical monitoring appropriate to the patient's level of stability is essential. Multiple refills should not be prescribed early in treatment or without appropriate patient follow-up visits [see Drug Abuse And Dependence].
Buprenorphine, particularly when taken by the IV route, in combination with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants (including alcohol), has been associated with significant respiratory depression and death. Many, but not all post-marketing reports regarding coma and death associated with the concomitant use of buprenorphine and benzodiazepines involved misuse by self-injection. Deaths have also been reported in association with concomitant administration of buprenorphine with other depressants such as alcohol or other CNS depressant drugs. Patients should be warned of the potential danger of self-administration of benzodiazepines or other depressants while under treatment with SUBUTEX sublingual tablet [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
In the case of overdose, the primary management should be the re-establishment of adequate ventilation with mechanical assistance of respiration, if required. Naloxone may be of value for the management of buprenorphine overdose. Higher than normal doses and repeated administration may be necessary.
SUBUTEX sublingual tablet should be used with caution in patients with compromised respiratory function (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cor pulmonale, decreased respiratory reserve, hypoxia, hypercapnia, or pre-existing respiratory depression).
Patients receiving buprenorphine in the presence of opioid analgesics, general anesthetics, benzodiazepines, phenothiazines, other tranquilizers, sedative/hypnotics or other CNS depressants (including alcohol) may exhibit increased CNS depression. Consider dose reduction of CNS depressants, SUBUTEX sublingual tablet, or both in situations of concomitant prescribing [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Unintentional Pediatric Exposure
Buprenorphine can cause severe, possibly fatal, respiratory depression in children who are accidentally exposed to it. Store buprenorphine-containing medications safely out of the sight and reach of children and destroy any unused medication appropriately [see Patient Counseling].
Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome
Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) is an expected and treatable outcome of prolonged use of opioids during pregnancy, whether that use is medically-authorized or illicit. Unlike opioid withdrawal syndrome in adults, NOWS may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated in the neonate. Healthcare professionals should observe newborns for signs of NOWS and manage accordingly [see Use In Specific Populations].
Advise pregnant women receiving opioid addiction treatment with SUBUTEX of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available [see Use In Specific Populations]. This risk must be balanced against the risk of untreated opioid addiction which often results in continued or relapsing illicit opioid use and is associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. Therefore, prescribers should discuss the importance and benefits of management of opioid addiction throughout pregnancy.
Cases of adrenal insufficiency have been reported with opioid use, more often following greater than one month of use. Presentation of adrenal insufficiency may include non-specific symptoms and signs including nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. If adrenal insufficiency is suspected, confirm the diagnosis with diagnostic testing as soon as possible. If adrenal insufficiency is diagnosed, treat with physiologic replacement doses of corticosteroids. Wean the patient off of the opioid to allow adrenal function to recover and continue corticosteroid treatment until adrenal function recovers. Other opioids may be tried as some cases reported use of a different opioid without recurrence of adrenal insufficiency. The information available does not identify any particular opioids as being more likely to be associated with adrenal insufficiency.
Buprenorphine is a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptor and chronic administration produces physical dependence of the opioid type, characterized by withdrawal signs and symptoms upon abrupt discontinuation or rapid taper. The withdrawal syndrome is typically milder than seen with full agonists and may be delayed in onset. Buprenorphine can be abused in a manner similar to other opioids. This should be considered when prescribing or dispensing buprenorphine in situations when the clinician is concerned about an increased risk of misuse, abuse, or diversion [see Drug Abuse And Dependence].
Hepatitis, Hepatic Events
Cases of cytolytic hepatitis and hepatitis with jaundice have been observed in individuals receiving buprenorphine in clinical trials and through post-marketing adverse event reports. The spectrum of abnormalities ranges from transient asymptomatic elevations in hepatic transaminases to case reports of death, hepatic failure, hepatic necrosis, hepatorenal syndrome, and hepatic encephalopathy. In many cases, the presence of pre-existing liver enzyme abnormalities, infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus, concomitant usage of other potentially hepatotoxic drugs, and ongoing injecting drug use may have played a causative or contributory role. In other cases, insufficient data were available to determine the etiology of the abnormality. Withdrawal of buprenorphine has resulted in amelioration of acute hepatitis in some cases; however, in other cases no dose reduction was necessary. The possibility exists that buprenorphine had a causative or contributory role in the development of the hepatic abnormality in some cases. Liver function tests, prior to initiation of treatment is recommended to establish a baseline. Periodic monitoring of liver function during treatment is also recommended. A biological and etiological evaluation is recommended when a hepatic event is suspected. Depending on the case, SUBUTEX sublingual tablet may need to be carefully discontinued to prevent withdrawal signs and symptoms and a return by the patient to illicit drug use, and strict monitoring of the patient should be initiated.
Cases of hypersensitivity to buprenorphine products have been reported both in clinical trials and in the post-marketing experience. Cases of bronchospasm, angioneurotic edema, and anaphylactic shock have been reported. The most common signs and symptoms include rashes, hives, and pruritus. A history of hypersensitivity to buprenorphine is a contraindication to the use of SUBUTEX sublingual tablet.
Precipitation Of Opioid Withdrawal Signs And Symptoms
Because of the partial agonist properties of buprenorphine, SUBUTEX sublingual tablet may precipitate opioid withdrawal signs and symptoms in individuals physically dependent on full opioid agonists if administered sublingually or parenterally before the agonist effects of other opioids have subsided.
Use In Opioid Naïve Patients
There have been reported deaths of opioid naïve individuals who received a 2 mg dose of buprenorphine as a sublingual tablet for analgesia. SUBUTEX sublingual tablet is not appropriate as an analgesic.
Use In Patients With Impaired Hepatic Function
In a pharmacokinetic study, buprenorphine plasma levels were found to be higher and the half-life was found to be longer in subjects with moderate and severe hepatic impairment, but not in subjects with mild hepatic impairment.
For patients with severe hepatic impairment, a dose adjustment is recommended, and patients with moderate or severe hepatic impairment should be monitored for signs and symptoms of toxicity or overdose caused by increased levels of buprenorphine [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and Use In Specific Populations].
Impairment Of Ability To Drive Or Operate Machinery
SUBUTEX sublingual tablet may impair the mental or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially dangerous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery, especially during treatment induction and dose adjustment. Patients should be cautioned about driving or operating hazardous machinery until they are reasonably certain that buprenorphine therapy does not adversely affect his or her ability to engage in such activities.
Like other opioids, SUBUTEX sublingual tablet may produce orthostatic hypotension in ambulatory patients.
Elevation Of Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure
Buprenorphine, like other opioids, may elevate cerebrospinal fluid pressure and should be used with caution in patients with head injury, intracranial lesions and other circumstances when cerebrospinal pressure may be increased. Buprenorphine can produce miosis and changes in the level of consciousness that may interfere with patient evaluation.
Elevation Of Intracholedochal Pressure
Buprenorphine has been shown to increase intracholedochal pressure, as do other opioids, and thus should be administered with caution to patients with dysfunction of the biliary tract.
Effects In Acute Abdominal Conditions
As with other opioids, buprenorphine may obscure the diagnosis or clinical course of patients with acute abdominal conditions.
SUBUTEX sublingual tablet should be administered with caution in debilitated patients and those with myxedema or hypothyroidism; adrenal cortical insufficiency (e.g., Addison's disease); CNS depression or coma; toxic psychoses; prostatic hypertrophy or urethral stricture; acute alcoholism; delirium tremens; or kyphoscoliosis.
Patient Counseling Information
Advise patients to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide).
Before initiating treatment with SUBUTEX sublingual tablet, explain the points listed below to caregivers and patients. Instruct patients to read the Medication Guide each time SUBUTEX sublingual tablet is dispensed because new information may be available.
- Warn patients that it is extremely dangerous to self-administer non-prescribed benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants (including alcohol) while taking SUBUTEX sublingual tablet. Caution patients prescribed benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants to use them only as directed by their healthcare providers [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, DRUG INTERACTIONS].
- Advise patients that SUBUTEX sublingual tablet contains an opioid that can be a target for people who abuse prescription medications or street drugs and to keep their tablets in a safe place, and to protect them from theft.
- Instruct patients to keep SUBUTEX sublingual tablet in a secure place, out of the sight and reach of children. Accidental or deliberate ingestion by a child may cause respiratory depression that can result in death. Advise patients to seek medical attention immediately if a child is exposed to SUBUTEX sublingual tablet.
- Inform patients that opioids could cause a rare but potentially life-threatening condition resulting from concomitant administration of serotonergic drugs. Warn patients of the symptoms of serotonin syndrome and to seek medical attention right away if symptoms develop. Instruct patients to inform their healthcare providers if they are taking, or plan to take serotonergic medications [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
- Inform patients that opioids could cause adrenal insufficiency, a potentially life-threatening condition. Adrenal insufficiency may present with non-specific symptoms and signs such as nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Advise patients to seek medical attention if they experience a constellation of these symptoms [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
- Advise patients never to give SUBUTEX sublingual tablet to anyone else, even if he or she has the same signs and symptoms. It may cause harm or death.
- Advise patients that selling or giving away this medication is against the law.
- Caution patients that SUBUTEX sublingual tablet may impair the mental or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially dangerous tasks such as driving or operating hazardous machinery. Caution should be taken especially during drug induction and dose adjustment and until individuals are reasonably certain that buprenorphine therapy does not adversely affect their ability to engage in such activities [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
- Advise patients not to change the dosage of SUBUTEX sublingual tablet without consulting their healthcare providers.
- Advise patients to take SUBUTEX sublingual tablet once a day.
- Inform patients that SUBUTEX sublingual tablet can cause drug dependence and that withdrawal signs and symptoms may occur when the medication is discontinued.
- Advise patients seeking to discontinue treatment with buprenorphine for opioid dependence to work closely with their healthcare providers on a tapering schedule and inform them of the potential to relapse to illicit drug use associated with discontinuation of opioid agonist/partial agonist medication-assisted treatment.
- Advise patients that, like other opioids, SUBUTEX sublingual tablet may produce orthostatic hypotension in ambulatory individuals [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
- Advise patients to inform their healthcare providers if any other prescription medications, over-thecounter medications, or herbal preparations are prescribed or currently being used [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
- Advise women that if they are pregnant while being treated with SUBUTEX, the baby may have signs of withdrawal at birth and that withdrawal is treatable [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Use In Specific Populations].
- Advise women who are breastfeeding to monitor the infant for drowsiness and difficulty breathing [see Specific Populations].
- Advise patients to inform their family members that, in the event of emergency, the treating healthcare providers or emergency room staff should be informed that the patient is physically dependent on an opioid and that the patient is being treated with SUBUTEX sublingual tablet.
- Advise patients to refer to the Medication Guide for additional information regarding the counseling information.
Disposal Of Unused SUBUTEX Sublingual Tablets
Unused SUBUTEX sublingual tablets should be disposed of as soon as they are no longer needed. Flush unused tablets down the toilet.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Carcinogenicity studies of buprenorphine were conducted in Sprague-Dawley rats and CD-1 mice. Buprenorphine was administered in the diet to rats at doses of 0.6, 5.5, and 56 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was approximately 0.4, 3 and 35 times the recommended human daily sublingual dose of 16 mg on a mg/m² basis) for 27 months. As in the buprenorphine/naloxone carcinogenicity study in rat, statistically significant dose-related increases in Leydig cell tumors occurred. In an 86-week study in CD-1 mice, buprenorphine was not carcinogenic at dietary doses up to 100 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was approximately 30 times the recommended human daily sublingual dose of 16 mg on a mg/m² basis).
Buprenorphine was studied in a series of tests utilizing gene, chromosome, and DNA interactions in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems. Results were negative in yeast (S. cerevisiae) for recombinant, gene convertant, or forward mutations; negative in Bacillus subtilis “rec” assay, negative for clastogenicity in CHO cells, Chinese hamster bone marrow and spermatogonia cells, and negative in the mouse lymphoma L5178Y assay.
Results were equivocal in the Ames test: negative in studies in two laboratories, but positive for frame shift mutation at a high dose (5 mg/plate) in a third study. Results were positive in the Green-Tweets (E. coli) survival test, positive in a DNA synthesis inhibition (DSI) test with testicular tissue from mice, for both in vivo and in vitro incorporation of [3H]thymidine, and positive in unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) test using testicular cells from mice.
Impairment Of Fertility
Reproduction studies of buprenorphine in rats demonstrated no evidence of impaired fertility at daily oral doses up to 80 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was approximately 50 times the recommended human daily sublingual dose of 16 mg on a mg/m² basis) or up to 5 mg/kg/day IM or SC (estimated exposure was approximately 3 times the recommended human daily sublingual dose of 16 mg on a mg/m² basis).
Use In Specific Populations
The data on use of buprenorphine, the active ingredient in SUBUTEX sublingual tablets, in pregnancy, are limited; however, these data do not indicate an increased risk of major malformations specifically due to buprenorphine exposure. There are limited data from randomized clinical trials in women maintained on buprenorphine that were not designed appropriately to assess the risk of major malformations [see Data]. Observational studies have reported on congenital malformations among buprenorphine-exposed pregnancies, but were also not designed appropriately to assess the risk of congenital malformations specifically due to buprenorphine exposure [see Data].
Reproductive and developmental studies in rats and rabbits identified adverse events at clinically relevant and higher doses. Embryofetal death was observed in both rats and rabbits administered buprenorphine during the period of organogenesis at doses approximately 6 and 0.3 times, respectively, the human sublingual dose of 16 mg/day of buprenorphine. Pre-and post-natal development studies in rats demonstrated increased neonatal deaths at 0.3 times and above and dystocia at approximately 3 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg/day of buprenorphine. No clear teratogenic effects were seen when buprenorphine was administered during organogenesis with a range of doses equivalent to or greater than the human sublingual dose of 16 mg/day of buprenorphine. However, increases in skeletal abnormalities were noted in rats and rabbits administered buprenorphine daily during organogenesis at doses approximately 0.6 times and approximately equal to the human sublingual dose of 16 mg/day of buprenorphine, respectively. In a few studies, some events such as acephalus and omphalocele were also observed but these findings were not clearly treatment-related.
The estimated background risks of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population are unknown. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2-4% and 15-20%, respectively.
Disease-Associated Maternal And Embryo-Fetal Risk
Untreated opioid addiction in pregnancy is associated with adverse obstetrical outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and fetal death. In addition, untreated opioid addiction often results in continued or relapsing illicit opioid use.
Dose Adjustment During Pregnancy And The Postpartum Period
Dosage adjustments of buprenorphine may be required during pregnancy, even if the patient was maintained on a stable dose prior to pregnancy. Withdrawal signs and symptoms should be monitored closely and the dose adjusted as necessary.
Fetal/Neonatal Adverse Reactions
Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome may occur in newborn infants of mothers who are receiving treatment with SUBUTEX sublingual tablets.
Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome presents as irritability, hyperactivity and abnormal sleep pattern, high pitched cry, tremor, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or failure to gain weight. Signs of neonatal withdrawal usually occur in the first days after birth. The duration and severity of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome may vary. Observe newborns for signs of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and manage accordingly [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Labor Or Delivery
Opioid-dependent women on buprenorphine maintenance therapy may require additional analgesia during labor.
Studies have been conducted to evaluate neonatal outcomes in women exposed to buprenorphine during pregnancy. Limited data from trials, observational studies, case series, and case reports on buprenorphine use in pregnancy do not indicate an increased risk of major malformations specifically due to buprenorphine. Several factors may complicate the interpretation of investigations of the children of women who take buprenorphine during pregnancy, including maternal use of illicit drugs, late presentation for prenatal care, infection, poor compliance, poor nutrition, and psychosocial circumstances. Interpretation of data is complicated further by the lack of information on untreated opioid-dependent pregnant women, who would be the most appropriate group for comparison. Rather, women on another form of opioid medication-assisted treatment, or women in the general population are generally used as the comparison group. However, women in these comparison groups may be different from women prescribed buprenorphine-containing products with respect to maternal factors that may lead to poor pregnancy outcomes.
In a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial [Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER)] designed primarily to assess neonatal opioid withdrawal effects, opioid-dependent pregnant women were randomized to buprenorphine (n=86) or methadone (n=89) treatment, with enrollment at an average gestational age of 18.7 weeks in both groups. A total of 28 of the 86 women in the buprenorphine group (33%) and 16 of the 89 women in the methadone group (18%) discontinued treatment before the end of pregnancy.
Among women who remained in treatment until delivery, there was no difference between buprenorphine-treated and methadone-treated groups in the number of neonates requiring NOWS treatment or in the peak severity of NOWS. uprenorphine-exposed neonates required less morphine (mean total dose, 1.1 mg vs. 10.4 mg), had shorter hospital stays (10.0 days vs. 17.5 days), and shorter duration of treatment for NOWS (4.1 days vs. 9.9 days) compared to the methadone-exposed group. There were no differences between groups in other primary outcomes (neonatal head circumference,) or secondary outcomes (weight and length at birth, preterm birth, gestational age at delivery, and 1- minute and 5-minute !pgar scores), or in the rates of maternal or neonatal adverse events. The outcomes among mothers who discontinued treatment before delivery and may have relapsed to illicit opioid use are not known. Because of the imbalance in discontinuation rates between the buprenorphine and methadone groups, the study findings are difficult to interpret.
The exposure margins listed below are based on body surface area comparisons (mg/m²) to the human sublingual dose of 16 mg buprenorphine via SUBUTEX.
No definitive drug-related teratogenic effects were observed in rats and rabbits at IM doses up to 30 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure approximately 20 times and 35 times, respectively, the human sublingual dose of 16 mg). Maternal toxicity resulting in mortality was noted in these studies in both rats and rabbits. Acephalus was observed in one rabbit fetus from the low-dose group and omphalocele was observed in two rabbit fetuses from the same litter in the mid-dose group; no findings were observed in fetuses from the high-dose group. Maternal toxicity was seen in the high-dose group but not at the lower doses where the findings were observed. Following oral administration of buprenorphine to rats, dose-related post-implantation losses, evidenced by increases in the numbers of early resorptions with consequent reductions in the numbers of fetuses, were observed at doses of 10 mg/kg/day or greater (estimated exposure approximately 6 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg). In the rabbit, increased post-implantation losses occurred at an oral dose of 40 mg/kg/day. Following IM administration in the rat and the rabbit, post-implantation losses, as evidenced by decreases in live fetuses and increases in resorptions, occurred at 30 mg/kg/day.
Buprenorphine was not teratogenic in rats or rabbits after IM or subcutaneous (SC) doses up to 5 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was approximately 3 and 6 times, respectively, the human sublingual dose of 16 mg), after IV doses up to 0.8 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was approximately 0.5 times and equal to, respectively, the human sublingual dose of 16 mg), or after oral doses up to 160 mg/kg/day in rats (estimated exposure was approximately 95 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg) and 25 mg/kg/day in rabbits (estimated exposure was approximately 30 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg). Significant increases in skeletal abnormalities (e.g., extra thoracic vertebra or thoraco-lumbar ribs) were noted in rats after SC administration of 1 mg/kg/day and up (estimated exposure was approximately 0.6 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg), but were not observed at oral doses up to 160 mg/kg/day. Increases in skeletal abnormalities in rabbits after IM administration of 5 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was approximately 6 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg) in the absence of maternal toxicity or oral administration of 1 mg/kg/day or greater (estimated exposure was approximately equal to the human sublingual dose of 16 mg) were not statistically significant.
In rabbits, buprenorphine produced statistically significant pre-implantation losses at oral doses of 1 mg/kg/day or greater and post-implantation losses that were statistically significant at IV doses of 0.2 mg/kg/day or greater (estimated exposure approximately 0.3 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg). No maternal toxicity was noted at doses causing post-implantation loss in this study. Dystocia was noted in pregnant rats treated intramuscularly with buprenorphine from Gestation Day 14 through Lactation Day 21 at 5 mg/kg/day (approximately 3 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg). Fertility, and pre-and post-natal development studies with buprenorphine in rats indicated increases in neonatal mortality after oral doses of 0.8 mg/kg/day and up (approximately 0.5 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg), after IM doses of 0.5 mg/kg/day and up (approximately 0.3 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg), and after SC doses of 0.1 mg/kg/day and up (approximately 0.06 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg). An apparent lack of milk production during these studies likely contributed to the decreased pup viability and lactation indices. Delays in the occurrence of righting reflex and startle response were noted in rat pups at an oral dose of 80 mg/kg/day (approximately 50 times the human sublingual dose of 16 mg).
Based on two studies in 13 lactating women maintained on buprenorphine treatment, buprenorphine and its metabolite norbuprenorphine were present in low levels in human milk and available data have not shown adverse reactions in breastfed infants. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother's clinical need for SU UTEX sublingual tablets and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed child from the drug or from the underlying maternal condition.
Advise breastfeeding women taking buprenorphine products to monitor the infant for increased drowsiness and breathing difficulties.
Data were consistent from two studies (N=13) of breastfeeding infants whose mothers were maintained on sublingual doses of buprenorphine ranging from 2.4 to 24 mg/day, showing that the infants were exposed to less than 1% of the maternal daily dose.
In a study of six lactating women who were taking a median sublingual buprenorphine dose of 0.29 mg/kg/day 5 to 8 days after delivery, breast milk provided a median infant dose of 0.42 mcg/kg/day of buprenorphine and 0.33 mcg/kg/day of norbuprenorphine, equal to 0.2% and 0.12%, respectively, of the maternal weight-adjusted dose (relative dose/kg (%) of norbuprenorphine was calculated from the assumption that buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine are equipotent).
Data from a study of seven lactating women who were taking a median sublingual buprenorphine dose of 7 mg/day an average of 1.12 months after delivery indicated that the mean milk concentrations (Cavg) of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine were 3.65 mcg/L and 1.94 mcg/L respectively. Based on the study data, and assuming milk consumption of 150 mL/kg/day, an exclusively breastfed infant would receive an estimated mean absolute infant dose (AID) of 0.55 mcg/kg/day of buprenorphine and 0.29 mcg/kg/day of norbuprenorphine, or a mean relative infant dose (RID) of 0.38% and 0.18%, respectively, of the maternal weight-adjusted dose.
Females And Males Of Reproductive Potential
Chronic use of opioids may cause reduced fertility in females and males of reproductive potential. It is not known whether these effects on fertility are reversible [see ADVERSE REACTIONS, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Nonclinical Toxicology].
The safety and effectiveness of SUBUTEX sublingual tablet has not been established in pediatric patients.
Clinical studies of SUBUTEX sublingual tablet, SUBOXONE sublingual film, or SUBOXONE sublingual tablet did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they responded differently than younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.
The effects of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of buprenorphine were evaluated in a pharmacokinetic study. Buprenorphine is extensively metabolized in the liver and buprenorphine plasma levels were found to be higher and the half-life was found to be longer in subjects with moderate and severe hepatic impairment, but not in subjects with mild hepatic impairment. For patients with severe hepatic impairment, a dose adjustment is recommended, and patients with moderate or severe hepatic impairment should be monitored for signs and symptoms of toxicity or overdose caused by increased levels of buprenorphine. [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
No differences in buprenorphine pharmacokinetics were observed between 9 dialysis-dependent and 6 normal patients following IV administration of 0.3 mg buprenorphine.
In the event of overdose, the respiratory and cardiac status of the patient should be monitored carefully. When respiratory or cardiac functions are depressed, primary attention should be given to the re-establishment of adequate respiratory exchange through provision of a patent airway and institution of assisted or controlled ventilation. Oxygen, IV fluids, vasopressors, and other supportive measures should be employed as indicated.
In the case of overdose, the primary management should be the re-establishment of adequate ventilation with mechanical assistance of respiration, if required. Naloxone may be of value for the management of buprenorphine overdose. Higher than normal doses and repeated administration may be necessary. The long duration of action of SUBUTEX should be taken into consideration when determining the length of treatment and medical surveillance needed to reverse the effects of an overdose. Insufficient duration of monitoring may put patients at risk.
SUBUTEX sublingual tablet should not be administered to patients who have been shown to be hypersensitive to buprenorphine, as serious adverse reactions, including anaphylactic shock, have been reported [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Mechanism Of Action
Comparisons of buprenorphine to full opioid agonists such as methadone and hydromorphone suggest that sublingual buprenorphine produces typical opioid agonist effects which are limited by a ceiling effect.
Opioid agonist ceiling-effects were also observed in a double-blind, parallel group, dose-ranging comparison of single doses of buprenorphine sublingual solution (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32 mg), placebo and a full agonist control at various doses. The treatments were given in ascending dose order at intervals of at least one week to 16 opioid-experienced subjects who were not physically dependent. Both active drugs produced typical opioid agonist effects. For all measures for which the drugs produced an effect, buprenorphine produced a dose-related response. However, in each case, there was a dose that produced no further effect. In contrast, the highest dose of the full agonist control always produced the greatest effects. Agonist objective rating scores remained elevated for the higher doses of buprenorphine (8-32 mg) longer than for the lower doses and did not return to baseline until 48 hours after drug administration. The onset of effects appeared more rapidly with buprenorphine than with the full agonist control, with most doses nearing peak effect after 100 minutes for buprenorphine compared to 150 minutes for the full agonist control.
Buprenorphine in IV (2, 4, 8, 12 and 16 mg) and sublingual (12 mg) doses has been administered to opioid-experienced subjects who were not physically dependent to examine cardiovascular, respiratory and subjective effects at doses comparable to those used for treatment of opioid dependence. Compared to placebo, there were no statistically significant differences among any of the treatment conditions for blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, O2 saturation, or skin temperature across time. Systolic BP was higher in the 8 mg group than placebo (3-hour AUC values). Minimum and maximum effects were similar across all treatments. Subjects remained responsive to low voice and responded to computer prompts. Some subjects showed irritability, but no other changes were observed.
The respiratory effects of sublingual buprenorphine were compared with the effects of methadone in a double-blind, parallel group, dose ranging comparison of single doses of buprenorphine sublingual solution (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32 mg) and oral methadone (15, 30, 45, or 60 mg) in non-dependent, opioid-experienced volunteers. In this study, hypoventilation not requiring medical intervention was reported more frequently after buprenorphine doses of 4 mg and higher than after methadone. Both drugs decreased O2 saturation to the same degree.
Chronic use of opioids may influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, leading to androgen deficiency that may manifest as low libido, impotence, erectile dysfunction, amenorrhea, or infertility. The causal role of opioids in the clinical syndrome of hypogonadism is unknown because the various medical, physical, lifestyle, and psychological stressors that may influence gonadal hormone levels have not been adequately controlled for in studies conducted to date. Patients presenting with symptoms of androgen deficiency should undergo laboratory evaluation.
Plasma levels of buprenorphine increased with the sublingual dose of SUBUTEX sublingual tablet (Table 4). There was wide inter-patient variability in the sublingual absorption of buprenorphine, but within subjects the variability was low. Both Cmax and AUC of buprenorphine increased in a linear fashion with the increase in dose (in the range of 4 to 16 mg), although the increase was not directly dose-proportional.
Table 4 : Pharmacokinetic Parameters of Buprenorphine
and Norbuprenorphine after the sublingual administration of SUBUTEX sublingual
|Dose||Analyte||Mean SD||Cmax (ng/mL)||Tmax (h)||AUCinf (h•ng/mL)||t½(h)|
Buprenorphine is approximately 96% protein bound, primarily to alpha and beta globulin.
Buprenorphine undergoes both N-dealkylation to norbuprenorphine and glucuronidation. The N-dealkylation pathway is mediated primarily by CYP3A4. Norbuprenorphine, the major metabolite, can further undergo glucuronidation. Norbuprenorphine has been found to bind opioid receptors in vitro; however, it is not known whether norbuprenorphine contributes to the overall effect of SUBUTEX.
A mass balance study of buprenorphine showed complete recovery of radiolabel in urine (30%) and feces (69%) collected up to 11 days after dosing. Almost all of the dose was accounted for in terms of buprenorphine, norbuprenorphine, and two unidentified buprenorphine metabolites. In urine, most of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine was conjugated (buprenorphine, 1% free and 9.4% conjugated; norbuprenorphine, 2.7% free and 11% conjugated). In feces, almost all of the buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine were free (buprenorphine, 33% free and 5% conjugated; norbuprenorphine, 21% free and 2% conjugated).
When SUBUTEX tablets are administered sublingually, buprenorphine has a mean elimination half-life from plasma ranging from 31 to 35 hours.
Drug Interactions Studies
CYP3A4 Inhibitors And Inducers
Subjects receiving SUBUTEX sublingual tablet should be monitored if inhibitors of CYP3A4 such as azole antifungal agents (e.g., ketoconazole), macrolide antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin) or HIV protease inhibitors and may require dose-reduction of one or both agents. The interaction of buprenorphine with all CYP3A4 inducers has not been studied, therefore it is recommended that patients receiving SUBUTEX sublingual tablet be monitored for signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal if inducers of CYP3A4 (e.g., phenobarbital, carbamazepine, phenytoin, rifampicin) are co-administered [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Buprenorphine has been found to be a CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 inhibitor and its major metabolite, norbuprenorphine has been found to be a moderate CYP2D6 inhibitor in in vitro studies employing human liver microsomes. However, the relatively low plasma concentrations of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine resulting from therapeutic doses are not expected to raise significant drug-drug interaction concerns.
In a pharmacokinetic study, the disposition of buprenorphine was determined after administering a 2.0/0.5 mg SUBOXONE (buprenorphine with naloxone) sublingual tablet in subjects with varied degrees of hepatic impairment as indicated by Child-Pugh criteria. The disposition of buprenorphine in patients with hepatic impairment was compared to disposition in subjects with normal hepatic function.
In subjects with mild hepatic impairment, the changes in mean Cmax, AUC0-last, and half-life values of buprenorphine were not clinically significant. No dose adjustment is needed in patients with mild hepatic impairment.
For subjects with moderate and severe hepatic impairment, mean Cmax, AUC0-last, and half-life values of buprenorphine were increased (Table 5). [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and Use In Specific Populations].
Table 5 : Changes in Buprenorphine Pharmacokinetic
Parameters in Subjects with Moderate and Severe Hepatic Impairment
|Hepatic Impairment||PK Parameters||Increase in buprenorphine compared to healthy subjects|
In subjects with HCV infection but no sign of hepatic impairment, the changes in the mean Cmax, AUC0-last, and half-life values of buprenorphine were not clinically significant in comparison to healthy subjects without HCV infection. No dose adjustment is needed in patients with HCV infection.
Clinical data on the safety and efficacy of SUBUTEX were derived from studies of buprenorphine sublingual tablet formulations, with and without naloxone, and from studies of sublingual administration of a more bioavailable ethanolic solution of buprenorphine.
SUBUTEX tablets were studied in 1834 patients; SUBOXONE tablets (buprenorphine with naloxone) in 575 patients, and buprenorphine sublingual solutions in 2470 patients. A total of 1270 women received buprenorphine in those clinical trials. Dosing recommendations are based on data from one trial of both tablet formulations and two trials of the ethanolic solution. All trials used buprenorphine in conjunction with psychosocial counseling as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program. There were no clinical studies conducted to assess the efficacy of buprenorphine as the only component of treatment.
In a double-blind placebo-and active-controlled study, 326 heroin-addicted subjects were randomly assigned to either SUBOXONE sublingual tablets, 16/4 mg per day; SUBUTEX sublingual tablets, 16 mg per day; or placebo sublingual tablets. For subjects randomized to either active treatment, dosing began with one 8 mg SUBUTEX on Day 1, followed by 16 mg (two 8 mg tablets) of SUBUTEX on Day 2. On Day 3, those randomized to receive SUBOXONE sublingual tablets were switched to the combination tablet. Subjects randomized to placebo received one placebo tablet on Day 1 and two placebo tablets per day thereafter for four weeks. Subjects were seen daily in the clinic (Monday through Friday) for dosing and efficacy assessments. Take-home doses were provided for weekends. Subjects were instructed to hold the medication under the tongue for approximately 5 to 10 minutes until completely dissolved. Subjects received counseling regarding HIV infection and up to one hour of individualized counseling per week. The primary study comparison was to assess the efficacy of SUBOXONE sublingual tablets and SUBUTEX sublingual tablets individually against placebo sublingual tablet. The percentage of thrice-weekly urine samples that were negative for non-study opioids was statistically higher for both SUBOXONE sublingual tablets and SUBUTEX sublingual tablets than for placebo sublingual tablets.
In a double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group study comparing buprenorphine ethanolic solution to a full agonist active control, 162 subjects were randomized to receive the ethanolic sublingual solution of buprenorphine at 8 mg/day (a dose which is roughly comparable to a dose of 12 mg per day of SUBUTEX sublingual tablets), or two relatively low doses of active control, one of which was low enough to serve as an alternative to placebo, during a 3-10 day induction phase, a 16-week maintenance phase and a 7-week detoxification phase. Buprenorphine was titrated to maintenance dose by Day 3; active control doses were titrated more gradually.
Maintenance dosing continued through Week 17, and then medications were tapered by approximately 20%-30% per week over Weeks 18-24, with placebo dosing for the last two weeks. Subjects received individual and/or group counseling weekly.
Based on retention in treatment and the percentage of thrice-weekly urine samples negative for non-study opioids, buprenorphine was more effective than the low dose of the control, in keeping heroin addicts in treatment and in reducing their use of opioids while in treatment. The effectiveness of buprenorphine, 8mg per day was similar to that of the moderate active control dose, but equivalence was not demonstrated.
In a dose-controlled, double-blind, parallel-group, 16-week study, 731 subjects were randomized to receive one of four doses of buprenorphine ethanolic solution: 1 mg, 4 mg, 8 mg, and 16 mg. Buprenorphine was titrated to maintenance doses over 1-4 days and continued for 16 weeks. Subjects received at least one session of AIDS education and additional counseling ranging from one hour per month to one hour per week, depending on site.
Based on retention in treatment and the percentage of thrice-weekly urine samples negative for non-study opioids, the three highest tested doses were superior to the 1 mg dose. Therefore, this study showed that a range of buprenorphine doses may be effective. The 1 mg dose of buprenorphine sublingual solution can be considered to be somewhat lower than a 2 mg tablet dose. The other doses used in the study encompass a range of tablet doses from approximately 6 mg to approximately 24 mg.
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