Suboxone is the high dosage form of Buprenorphine paired with Naloxone, a drug that counteracts opioid. It is utilized in the medication-assisted treatment and prescribed to treat addiction to opioid drugs.
Buprenorphine hydrochloride was produced in the 1980s in low doses by the manufacturer Reckitt and Colman as pain killers. They later discovered a high-dose formulation combined with Naloxone, this time named as Suboxone. In 2002, along with Subutex, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States of America approved it as a treatment for opioid addiction and have been primarily used for that indication since then.
The drug, compared to other opioid treatments like methadone, has proved itself to be more effective but many consumers ache of its high cost as only one manufacturer held the exclusive distribution of the said drug: Reckitt Benckiser. In 2009, the rights expired. In an attempt to fight for the rights, Reckitt appealed to FDA that producing pills and allowing other companies to make them places risks on children as they can easily get hold of the drugs and swallow them. Reckitt volunteered to stop selling the pills and then created the sublingual film, assuring FDA that this form is safer. The fight for the exclusivity in making the drugs revolved on one fact: sales. Reckitt himself stated that allowing other companies to sell generics will make the company lose up to 80% of its income from Suboxone.
Either way, this paved way for new manufacturers to produce the generic version of the drug. In the first quarter of the year 2013, Amneal Pharmaceuticals and Actavis Pharma consecutively secured approval from FDA to produce Suboxone. Although Reckitt Benckiser has the rights to solely manufacture the sublingual film strip until the year 2022, consumers may now avail of the cheaper medications sold by the 2 other pharmaceutical companies.
Due to its fast metabolic absorption, Suboxone cannot be taken orally and is only available in these forms:
- 2 mg and 8 mg Sublingual Pills
- 2 mg and 8 mg Sublingual Films
- 8 mg IM injection Solution
How it works
Suboxone works by the following pharmacologic action:
- Buprenorphine is a partial agonist that tricks the brain into thinking its craving has been satisfied as it binds to the opioid receptors although not all of them have received the drug. The “partial” action supplies the receptors with opioids without eliciting unwanted effects like euphoria and respiratory depression. It also sticks long with the brain receptors until such a time that a Òceiling effectÓ is formed with the continued use. No matter how many pills or films the patient will take, he/she will not be euphoric and therefore will not develop addiction.
- Naloxone, on the other hand, blocks the effects of opioids that relieve pain and produce euphoria. This, therefore, prevent craving for more of the drug. If the patient attempts to get high on the drug, crushing it or injecting it rapidly will rather produce uncomfortable withdrawal signs and symptoms.
The patient has to explicitly follow the instructions given by the doctor in taking Suboxone. 30 minutes before taking a dosage, eating, drinking or smoking is not allowed as these may hinder the drugÕs action. In the use of sublingual film, a small amount of water just enough to moisten the mouth to facilitate absorption may be taken in. As much as possible, the use of injectible solutions is discouraged as the rapid action of naloxone will knock down “loosen” opioids in the brain and will cause adverse withdrawal syndrome. Also, consult your doctor when taking another drug as it may interact with Suboxone.
Individuals taking Suboxone who might react to the drug may experience pain, nausea, stomach pain, constipation, headache and insomnia, loss of sensation and/or redness in the mouth. More serious drug reactions include allergic reactions like closing of the throat, hives, difficulty and/or slowness in breathing and swelling. Others may experience symptoms associated with liver problems like light-colored stools, dark-colored urine and jaundice.
The “lock” of the opioid addiction problem has been unlocked by the ÒkeyÓ found in the family of the selfsame drug, thanks to Science. If you wish to know more information and recent updates about Suboxone, kindly click on the links below: