Buprenorphine (Page 7 of 11)

8.2 Lactation

Risk Summary

Based on two studies in 13 lactating women maintained on buprenorphine treatment, buprenorphine and its metabolite norbuprenorphine were present in low levels in human milk and available data have not shown adverse reactions in breastfed infants. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for buprenorphine sublingual tablets and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed child from the drug or from the underlying maternal condition.

Clinical Considerations

Advise breastfeeding women taking buprenorphine products to monitor the infant for increased drowsiness and breathing difficulties.


Data were consistent from two studies (N=13) of breastfeeding infants whose mothers were maintained on sublingual doses of buprenorphine ranging from 2.4 to 24 mg/day, showing that the infants were exposed to less than 1% of the maternal daily dose.

In a study of six lactating women who were taking a median sublingual buprenorphine dose of 0.29 mg/kg/day 5 to 8 days after delivery, breast milk provided a median infant dose of 0.42 mcg/kg/day of buprenorphine and 0.33 mcg/kg/day of norbuprenorphine, equal to 0.2% and 0.12%, respectively, of the maternal weight-adjusted dose (relative dose/kg (%) of norbuprenorphine was calculated from the assumption that buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine are equipotent).

Data from a study of seven lactating women who were taking a median sublingual buprenorphine dose of 7 mg/day an average of 1.12 months after delivery indicated that the mean milk concentrations (Cavg ) of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine were 3.65 mcg/L and 1.94 mcg/L respectively. Based on the study data, and assuming milk consumption of 150 mL/kg/day, an exclusively breastfed infant would receive an estimated mean absolute infant dose (AID) of 0.55 mcg/kg/day of buprenorphine and 0.29 mcg/kg/day of norbuprenorphine, or a mean relative infant dose (RID) of 0.38% and 0.18%, respectively, of the maternal weight-adjusted dose.

8.3 Females and Males of Reproductive Potential


Chronic use of opioids may cause reduced fertility in females and males of reproductive potential. It is not known whether these effects on fertility are reversible [see Adverse Reactions (6.2), Clinical Pharmacology (12.2), Nonclinical Toxicology (13.1)].

8.4 Pediatric Use

The safety and effectiveness of buprenorphine sublingual tablets has not been established in pediatric patients.

8.5 Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of buprenorphine sublingual tablets, buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual film, or buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablet did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they responded differently than younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients.

Due to possible decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy in geriatric patients, the decision to prescribe buprenorphine sublingual tablets should be made cautiously in individuals 65 years of age or older and these patients should be monitored for signs and symptoms of toxicity or overdose.

8.6 Hepatic Impairment

The effects of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of buprenorphine were evaluated in a pharmacokinetic study. Buprenorphine is extensively metabolized in the liver and 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), Warnings and Precautions (5.12), Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].

8.7 Renal Impairment

No differences in buprenorphine pharmacokinetics were observed between 9 dialysis-dependent and 6 normal patients following IV administration of 0.3 mg buprenorphine.


9.1 Controlled Substance

Buprenorphine sublingual tablets contain buprenorphine, a Schedule III controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

Under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) codified at 21 U.S.C. 823(g), prescription use of this product in the treatment of opioid dependence is limited to healthcare providers who meet certain qualifying requirements, and who have notified the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) of their intent to prescribe this product for the treatment of opioid dependence and have been assigned a unique identification number that must be included on every prescription.

9.2 Abuse

Buprenorphine, like morphine and other opioids, has the potential for being abused and is subject to criminal diversion. This should be considered when prescribing or dispensing buprenorphine in situations when the clinician is concerned about an increased risk of misuse, abuse, or diversion. Healthcare professionals should contact their state professional licensing board or state-controlled substances authority for information on how to prevent and detect abuse or diversion of this product.

Patients who continue to misuse, abuse, or divert, buprenorphine products or other opioids should be provided or referred for more intensive and structured treatment.

Abuse of buprenorphine poses a risk of overdose and death. This risk is increased with the abuse of buprenorphine and alcohol and other substances, especially benzodiazepines.

The healthcare provider may be able to more easily detect misuse or diversion by maintaining records of medication prescribed including date, dose, quantity, frequency of refills, and renewal requests of medication prescribed.

Proper assessment of the patient, proper prescribing practices, periodic re-evaluation of therapy, and proper handling and storage of the medication are appropriate measures that help to limit abuse of opioid drugs.

9.3 Dependence

Buprenorphine is a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptor and chronic administration produces physical dependence of the opioid type, characterized by moderate 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 [s e e W arnings and Pr ec autions ( 5.7)] .

Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) is an expected and treatable outcome of prolonged use of opioids during pregnancy [s e e W arnings and Pr ec autions ( 5.5) ].


Clinical Presentation

The manifestations of acute overdose include pinpoint pupils, sedation, hypotension, respiratory depression, and death.

Treatment of Overdose

In the event of overdose, the respiratory and cardiac status of the patient should be monitored carefully. When respiratory or cardiac functions are depressed, primary attention should be given to the re-establishment of adequate respiratory exchange through provision of a patent airway and institution of assisted or controlled ventilation. Oxygen, IV fluids, vasopressors, and other supportive measures should be employed as indicated.

In the case of overdose, the primary management should be the re-establishment of adequate ventilation with mechanical assistance of respiration, if required. Naloxone may be of value for the management of buprenorphine overdose. Higher than normal doses and repeated administration may be necessary. The long duration of action of buprenorphine should be taken into consideration when determining the length of treatment and medical surveillance needed to reverse the effects of an overdose. Insufficient duration of monitoring may put patients at risk.

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