What is buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is an opioid (narcotic) medication that is similar to morphine, codeine, and heroin.

Buprenorphine is used to treat narcotic addiction.

Buprenorphine may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.


Do not use this medication if you are allergic to buprenorphine or naloxone (Narcan), or if you have used another narcotic drug within the past 4 hours.

Before using buprenorphine, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorders;
  • liver or kidney disease;
  • mental illness or a history of suicide attempt;
  • a history of alcoholism or IV drug use; or
  • a history of seizures, head injury, or brain tumor.

If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to use buprenorphine, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

Buprenorphine should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Buprenorphine should never be given to another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Buprenorphine can cause withdrawal effects in a person who is addicted to narcotics. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. It could also cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms in a newborn if the mother takes buprenorphine during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Buprenorphine passes into breast milk and may be harmful to a nursing baby. It may also decrease breast milk production. Do not use buprenorphine if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give this medication to a child.

Avoid using other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold medicine, pain medication, muscle relaxers, and medicine for seizures, depression or anxiety). They can add to sleepiness caused by buprenorphine.

Taking buprenorphine together with other drugs that cause drowsiness can slow the functions of your breathing and central nervous system to dangerous levels. These effects could result in a fatal overdose.

Avoid drinking alcohol, which can increase some of the side effects of buprenorphine. Using too much of this medicine in addition to drinking alcohol can cause death.

Buprenorphine can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

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Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. An overdose of buprenorphine can be fatal.

Symptoms of a buprenorphine overdose may include slowed breathing, extreme weakness, cold or clammy skin, small pupils, fainting, and coma.

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at your next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

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Side effects

Like other narcotic medicines, buprenorphine can slow your breathing. Death may occur if breathing becomes too weak.

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

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • slow or shallow breathing;
  • feeling light-headed, fainting;
  • confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior; or
  • nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Less serious side effects may be more likely to occur, such as:

  • headache;
  • stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation;
  • warmth or tingly feeling;
  • increased sweating;
  • weakness;
  • back pain;
  • anxiety, depression;
  • sleep problems (insomnia); or
  • runny nose.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Before using buprenorphine, tell your doctor if you use any of the following drugs:

  • an antifungal antibiotic such as fluconazole (Diflucan), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), or voriconazole (Vfend);
  • an antibacterial antibiotic such as azithromycin (Zithromax), clarithromycin (Biaxin), erythromycin (E-Mycin, E.E.S., Ery-Tab, Erythrocin), or telithromycin (Ketek);
  • HIV medication such as nevirapine (Viramune), delavirdine (Rescriptor), efavirenz (Sustiva), indinavir (Crixivan), ritonavir (Norvir), saquinavir (Invirase), or nelfinavir (Viracept);
  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane);
  • a sedative such as diazepam (Valium), midazolam (Versed), alprazolam (Xanax) lorazepam (Ativan), clorazepate (Tranxene), triazolam (Halcion), flurazepam (Dalmane), or temazepam (Restoril); or
  • seizure medication such as carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton), and others.

If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to use buprenorphine, or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.

There may be other drugs not listed that can affect buprenorphine. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Other Names

Buprenex, Subutex, and buprenorphine

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Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04

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