BELBUCA- buprenorphine hydrochloride film, soluble
Quality Care Products, LLC


Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse

BELBUCA exposes patients and other users to the risks of opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. Assess each patient’s risk prior to prescribing BELBUCA, and monitor all patients regularly for the development of these behaviors and conditions [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1) and Overdosage (10)].

Opioid Analgesic Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS)

To ensure that the benefits of opioid analgesics outweigh the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required a REMS for these products [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)]. Under the requirements of the REMS, drug companies with approved opioid analgesic products must make REMS-compliant education programs available to healthcare providers. Healthcare providers are strongly encouraged to

  • complete a REMS-compliant education program,
  • counsel patients and/or their caregivers, with every prescription, on safe use, serious risks, storage, and disposal of these products,
  • emphasize to patients and their caregivers the importance of reading the Medication Guide every time it is provided by their pharmacist, and
  • consider other tools to improve patient, household, and community safety.

Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression

Serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression may occur with use of BELBUCA. Monitor for respiratory depression, especially during initiation of BELBUCA or following a dose increase. Misuse or abuse of BELBUCA by chewing, swallowing, snorting or injecting buprenorphine extracted from the buccal film will result in the uncontrolled delivery of buprenorphine and pose a significant risk of overdose and death [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].

Accidental Exposure

Accidental exposure to even one dose of BELBUCA, especially in children, can result in a fatal overdose of buprenorphine [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].

Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome

Prolonged use of BELBUCA during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated, and requires management according to protocols developed by neonatology experts. If opioid use is required for a prolonged period in a pregnant woman, advise the patient of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4)].

Risks From Concomitant Use With Benzodiazepines Or Other CNS Depressants

Concomitant use of opioids with benzodiazepines or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, including alcohol, may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5), Drug Interactions (7)].

  • Reserve concomitant prescribing of BELBUCA and benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate.
  • Limit dosages and durations to the minimum required.
  • Follow patients for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation.


BELBUCA is indicated for the management of pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate.

Limitations of Use

  • Because of the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse with opioids, even at recommended doses, and because of the greater risks of overdose and death with long-acting opioid formulations [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)] , reserve BELBUCA for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options (e.g., non-opioid analgesics or immediate-release opioids) are ineffective, not tolerated, or would be otherwise inadequate to provide sufficient management of pain.
  • BELBUCA is not indicated as an as-needed (prn) analgesic.


2.1 Important Dosage and Administration Instructions

BELBUCA should be prescribed only by healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable in the use of potent opioids for the management of chronic pain.

  • Use the lowest effective dosage for the shortest duration consistent with individual patient treatment goals [see Warnings and Precautions (5)].
  • Initiate the dosing regimen for each patient individually, taking into account the patient’s severity of pain, patient response, prior analgesic treatment experience, and risk factors for addiction, abuse, and misuse [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
  • Monitor patients closely for respiratory depression, especially within the first 24-72 hours of initiating therapy and following dosage increases with BELBUCA and adjust the dosage accordingly [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].

BELBUCA buccal film is for oral buccal use only and is to be applied to the buccal mucosa every 12 hours.

Instruct patients not to use BELBUCA if the pouch seal is broken or the buccal film is cut, damaged, or changed in any way and to avoid applying BELBUCA to areas of the mouth with any open sores or lesions.

2.2 Initial Dosing

Use of BELBUCA as the Initial Opioid Analgesic (opioid-naïve patients) or in Patients who are not Opioid Tolerant (opioid-non-tolerant patients)

Initiate treatment in opioid-naïve and opioid-non-tolerant patients with a 75 mcg film once daily or, if tolerated, every 12 hours (see Table 1) for at least 4 days, then increase dose to 150 mcg every 12 hours. Individual titration to a dose that provides adequate analgesia and minimizes adverse reactions should proceed in increments of 150 mcg every 12 hours, no more frequently than every 4 days. Doses up to 450 mcg every 12 hours were studied in opioid-naïve patients in the clinical trials [see Clinical Studies (14)].

Use of higher starting doses in patients who are not opioid tolerant may cause fatal respiratory depression [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].

Conversion from Other Opioids to BELBUCA

Discontinue all other around-the-clock opioid drugs when BELBUCA therapy is initiated.

There is a potential for buprenorphine to precipitate withdrawal in patients who are already on opioids. To reduce the risk of opioid withdrawal, taper patients to no more than 30 mg oral morphine sulfate equivalents (MSE) daily before beginning BELBUCA. Following analgesic taper, base the starting dose on the patient’s daily opioid dose prior to taper, as described in Table 1. Patients may require additional short-acting analgesics during the taper period and during titration.

BELBUCA may not provide adequate analgesia for patients requiring greater than 160 mg oral MSE per day. Consider the use of an alternate analgesic.

There is inter-patient variability in the relative potency of opioid drugs and opioid formulations. Therefore, a conservative approach is advised when determining the total daily dosage of BELBUCA. It is safer to underestimate a patient’s 24-hour oral buprenorphine dosage and provide rescue medication (e.g., immediate-release opioid) than to overestimate the 24-hour buprenorphine dosage and manage an adverse reaction due to overdose.

In a BELBUCA clinical trial with an open-label titration period, patients were converted from their prior opioid to BELBUCA using Table 1 as a guide for the initial BELBUCA dose.

Table 1: Initial BELBUCA Dose Based on Prior Opioid Expressed as Oral Morphine Sulfate Equivalents
Prior Daily Dose of Opioid Analgesic Before Taper to 30 mg Oral MSE Initial BELBUCA Dose
Less than 30 mg oral MSE BELBUCA 75 mcg once daily or every 12 hours
30 mg to 89 mg oral MSE BELBUCA 150 mcg every 12 hours
90 mg to 160 mg oral MSE BELBUCA 300 mcg every 12 hours
Greater than 160 mg oral MSE Consider alternate analgesic

BELBUCA doses of 600 mcg, 750 mcg, and 900 mcg are only for use following titration from lower doses of BELBUCA. Individual titration should proceed in increments of 150 mcg every 12 hours, no more frequently than every 4 days.

Conversion from Methadone to BELBUCA

Close monitoring is of particular importance when converting from methadone to other opioid agonists, including BELBUCA. The ratio between methadone and other opioid agonists may vary widely as a function of previous dose exposure. Methadone has a long half-life and can accumulate in the plasma.

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