Buprenorphine (Page 3 of 11)

5.4 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 [s e e Pati e nt C ouns e ling ( 17) ] .

5.5 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 (8.1)].

Advise pregnant women receiving opioid addiction treatment with buprenorphine sublingual tablets of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)]. 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.

5.6 Adrenal Insufficiency

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.

5.7 Risk of Opioid Withdrawal with Abrupt Discontinuation

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 [see Drug Abuse and Dependence (9.3)]. When discontinuing buprenorphine sublingual tablets, gradually taper the dosage [see Dosage and Administration (2.10)].

5.8 Risk of 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, buprenorphine sublingual tablets 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.

5.9 Hypersensitivity Reactions

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 buprenorphine sublingual tablets.

5.10 Precipitation of Opioid Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

Because of the partial agonist properties of buprenorphine, buprenorphine sublingual tablets 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.

5.11 Risk of Overdose 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. Buprenorphine sublingual tablets are not appropriate as an analgesic.

5.12 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 (2.8), Use in Specific Populations (8.6)].

5.13 Impairment of Ability to Drive or Operate Machinery

Buprenorphine sublingual tablets 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. Caution patients 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.

5.14 Orthostatic Hypotension

Like other opioids, buprenorphine sublingual tablets may produce orthostatic hypotension in ambulatory patients.

5.15 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.

5.16 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.

5.17 Effects in Acute Abdominal Conditions

As with other opioids, buprenorphine may obscure the diagnosis or clinical course of patients with acute abdominal conditions.


The following serious adverse reactions are described elsewhere in the labeling:

  • Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1) ]
  • Respiratory and CNS Depression [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2, 5.3)]
  • Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)]
  • Adrenal Insufficiency [see Warnings and Precautions (5.6)]
  • Opioid Withdrawal [see Warnings and Precautions (5.7, 5.10)]
  • Hepatitis, Hepatic Events [see Warnings and Precautions (5.8)]
  • Hypersensitivity Reactions [see Warnings and Precautions (5.9)]
  • Orthostatic Hypotension [see Warnings and Precautions (5.14)]
  • Elevation of Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure [see Warnings and Precautions (5.15)]
  • Elevation of Intracholedochal Pressure [see Warnings and Precautions (5.16)]

All MedLibrary.org resources are included in as near-original form as possible, meaning that the information from the original provider has been rendered here with only typographical or stylistic modifications and not with any substantive alterations of content, meaning or intent.

This site is provided for educational and informational purposes only, in accordance with our Terms of Use, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner or other qualified health professional.

Privacy Policy | Copyright © 2021. All Rights Reserved.