What Is Subutex?

What Is Subutex?

The chemical name for Subutex is Buprenorphine (Buprenorphine Hydrochloride). It is a drug used to treat narcotics addiction. Subutex is a long acting drug in the class of opiates and is similar to the pain killer morphine and heroin. It falls under the category of analgesics (painkillers), CNS agents, Narcotic Addiction etc. Subutex is never used alone but as one of many drugs in the treatment of narcotics addiction.

The action of subutex occurs in the brain where it attaches itself to special receptors (the opioid receptors) with which it has a high bonding affinity and prevents the withdrawal symptoms commonly associated with the withdrawal of narcotics from a drug addict. It is preferred as treatment for patients without previous history of its use due to the fact that it does not contain naloxone (an additive found in Suboxone, another drug used to treat narcotics addiction).

Naloxone was added to Suboxone to discourage its abuse but it carries the risk of symptom withdrawal if wrongly used. The usual administration of Suboxone is orally where it is placed under the tongue to dissolve slowly (it is not advisable to swallow it).

What Is Subutex?

Subutex was first marketed by Reckitt and Benckiser in 1980 (known as Reckitt and Colman back then) as Buprenorphine Hydrochloride. Its use was as an analgesic (pain killer) and sold as Buprenex 0.3mg/ml injectable drug and 0.2 mg Temgesic tablets to be taken sublingually (by dissolving under the tongue).In the year 2002, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) of the US approved the use of Subutex in replacement therapy and detoxification during treatment of opioid dependency. It is classified as a schedule 3 drug.

In the present day, Subutex and Subuxone are sold in the US as 2mg and 8mg tablets respectively. In the year 2009, the pharmaceutical drugs company Roxane Laboratories, based in Columbus, Ohio, was given the go-ahead by the FDA to produce a generic version of Subutex. Its production, however, was not able to meet demand and Teva Pharmaceutical Laboratories was given the green light to distribute another generic version of the drug, although in limited quantities. The effectiveness of Subutex in displacing opiates from the body has been proven repeatedly in tests.

Buprenorphine is also available as transdermal 32.5, 52.5 and 70 micrograms/hour patches that slowly dissolve under the skin over a 96 hour period. This formulation is marketed as Transtec. Another formulation sold by the company Purdue Pharma as Butrans in the US is in the form of 5, 10 and 20 micrograms per hour patches which act over a period of seven days.

Subutex is approximately 20-40 times stronger than morphine as a pain killer. Once the drug enters the bloodstream, it has an elimination half-life of 20-73 hours (average 37 hours) and is broken down in the liver to Norbuprenorphine. This substance is then secreted into the bile and eliminated through stools.

Buprenorphine is used to treat chronic pain. Transdermal patches are used to treat chronic non-malignant pain while the injectable form is used in post-operative pain management. Additionally, Subutex is gaining more acceptances in the treatment of depression in patients.

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