A carcinogenicity study of buprenorphine/naloxone (4:1 ratio of the free bases) was performed in Alderley Park rats. Buprenorphine/naloxone was administered in the diet at doses of approximately 7, 31, and 123 mg/kg/day for 104 weeks (estimated exposure was approximately 4, 18, and 44 times the recommended human sublingual dose of 16 mg/4 mg buprenorphine/naloxone based on buprenorphine AUC comparisons). A statistically significant increase in Leydig cell adenomas was observed in all dose groups. No other drug-related tumors were noted.
Carcinogenicity studies of buprenorphine were conducted in Sprague-Dawley rats and CD-1 mice. Buprenorphine was administered in the diet to rats at doses of 0.6, 5.5, and 56 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was approximately 0.4, 3, and 35 times the recommended human daily sublingual dose of 16 mg on a mg/m 2 basis) for 27 months. As in the buprenorphine/naloxone carcinogenicity study in rat, statistically significant dose-related increases in Leydig cell tumors occurred. In an 86-week study in CD-1 mice, buprenorphine was not carcinogenic at dietary doses up to 100 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was approximately 30 times the recommended human daily sublingual dose of 16 mg on a mg/m 2 basis).
The 4:1 combination of buprenorphine and naloxone was not mutagenic in a bacterial mutation assay (Ames test) using four strains of S. typhimurium and two strains of E. coli. The combination was not clastogenic in an in vitro cytogenetic assay in human lymphocytes or in an IV micronucleus test in the rat.
Buprenorphine was studied in a series of tests utilizing gene, chromosome, and DNA interactions in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems. Results were negative in yeast ( S. cerevisiae) for recombinant, gene convertant, or forward mutations; negative in Bacillus subtilis “rec” assay, negative for clastogenicity in CHO cells, Chinese hamster bone marrow and spermatogonia cells, and negative in the mouse lymphoma L5178Y assay.
Results were equivocal in the Ames test: negative in studies in two laboratories, but positive for frame shift mutation at a high dose (5 mg/plate) in a third study. Results were positive in the Green-Tweets ( E. coli) survival test, positive in a DNA synthesis inhibition (DSI) test with testicular tissue from mice, for both in vivo and in vitro incorporation of [ 3 H]thymidine, and positive in unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) test using testicular cells from mice.
Impairment of Fertility:
Dietary administration of buprenorphine in the rat at dose levels of 500 ppm or greater (equivalent to approximately 47 mg/kg/day or greater; estimated exposure approximately 28 times the recommended human daily sublingual dose of 16 mg on a mg/m 2 basis) produced a reduction in fertility demonstrated by reduced female conception rates. A dietary dose of 100 ppm (equivalent to approximately 10 mg/kg/day; estimated exposure approximately 6 times the recommended human daily sublingual dose of 16 mg on a mg/m 2 basis) had no adverse effect on fertility.
Clinical data on the safety and efficacy of buprenorphine and naloxone were derived from studies of buprenorphine sublingual tablet formulations, with and without naloxone, and from studies of sublingual administration of a more bioavailable ethanolic solution of buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets were studied in 575 patients, buprenorphine sublingual tablets in 1834 patients and buprenorphine sublingual solutions in 2470 patients. A total of 1270 women received buprenorphine in those clinical trials. Dosing recommendations are based on data from one trial of both tablet formulations and two trials of the ethanolic solution. All trials used buprenorphine in conjunction with psychosocial counseling as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program. There were no clinical studies conducted to assess the efficacy of buprenorphine as the only component of treatment.
In a double-blind placebo- and active-controlled study, 326 heroin-addicted subjects were randomly assigned to either buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets, 16 mg/4 mg per day; buprenorphine sublingual tablets, 16 mg per day; or placebo sublingual tablets. For subjects randomized to either active treatment, dosing began with one 8 mg buprenorphine on Day 1, followed by 16 mg (two 8 mg tablets) of buprenorphine on Day 2. On Day 3, those randomized to receive buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets were switched to the combination tablet. Subjects randomized to placebo received one placebo tablet on Day 1 and two placebo tablets per day thereafter for four weeks. Subjects were seen daily in the clinic (Monday through Friday) for dosing and efficacy assessments. Take-home doses were provided for weekends. Subjects were instructed to hold the medication under the tongue for approximately 5 to 10 minutes until completely dissolved. Subjects received counseling regarding HIV infection and up to one hour of individualized counseling per week. The primary study comparison was to assess the efficacy of buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets and buprenorphine sublingual tablets individually against placebo sublingual tablet. The percentage of thrice-weekly urine samples that were negative for non-study opioids was statistically higher for both buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets and buprenorphine sublingual tablets than for placebo sublingual tablets.
In a double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group study comparing buprenorphine ethanolic solution to a full agonist active control, 162 subjects were randomized to receive the ethanolic sublingual solution of buprenorphine at 8 mg/day (a dose which is roughly comparable to a dose of 12 mg/3 mg per day of buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets or 12 mg per day of buprenorphine sublingual tablets ), or two relatively low doses of active control, one of which was low enough to serve as an alternative to placebo, during a 3 to 10 day induction phase, a 16-week maintenance phase and a 7-week detoxification phase. Buprenorphine was titrated to maintenance dose by Day 3; active control doses were titrated more gradually.
Maintenance dosing continued through Week 17, and then medications were tapered by approximately 20% to 30% per week over Weeks 18 to 24, with placebo dosing for the last two weeks. Subjects received individual and/or group counseling weekly.
Based on retention in treatment and the percentage of thrice-weekly urine samples negative for non-study opioids, buprenorphine was more effective than the low dose of the control, in keeping heroin addicts in treatment and in reducing their use of opioids while in treatment. The effectiveness of buprenorphine, 8 mg per day was similar to that of the moderate active control dose, but equivalence was not demonstrated.
In a dose-controlled, double-blind, parallel-group, 16-week study, 731 subjects were randomized to receive one of four doses of buprenorphine ethanolic solution: 1 mg, 4 mg, 8 mg, and 16 mg. Buprenorphine was titrated to maintenance doses over 1 to 4 days and continued for 16 weeks. Subjects received at least one session of AIDS education and additional counseling ranging from one hour per month to one hour per week, depending on site.
Based on retention in treatment and the percentage of thrice-weekly urine samples negative for non-study opioids, the three highest tested doses were superior to the 1 mg dose. Therefore, this study showed that a range of buprenorphine doses may be effective. The 1 mg dose of buprenorphine sublingual solution can be considered to be somewhat lower than a 2 mg tablet dose. The other doses used in the study encompass a range of tablet doses from approximately 6 mg to approximately 24 mg.
Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets are available as follows:
2mg/0.5mg -White to off-white, round, biconvex uncoated tablet, debossed with a “↑” logo on one side and an “N2” on the other side. Tablets are supplied in bottles of 30 (NDC 60429-586-30).
8mg/2mg -White to off-white, round, biconvex uncoated tablet, debossed with a “↑” logo on one side and “N8” on the other side. Tablets are supplied in bottles of 30 (NDC 60429-587-30).
Store at 25°C (77°F), excursions permitted to 15-30°C (59-86°F) [see USP Controlled Room Temperature].
Dispense in a tight, light-resistant container as defined in USP.
CAUTION: DEA Order Form Required.
Store buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets securely and dispose of properly [see Patient Counseling Information ( 17)]
Advise patients to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide)
Storage and Disposal
Because of the risks associated with accidental ingestion, misuse, and abuse, advise patients to store buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets securely, out of sight and reach of children, and in a location not accessible by others, including visitors to the home [see Warnings and Precautions ( 5.1),( 5.4), Abuse ( 9.2)] . Inform patients that leaving buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets unsecured can pose a deadly risk to others in the home.
Advise patients and caregivers that when medicines are no longer needed, they should be disposed of promptly. Expired, unwanted, or unused buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets should be disposed of by flushing the unused medication down the toilet if a drug take-back option is not readily available. Inform patients that they can visit www.fda.gov/drugdisposal for a complete list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing, as well as additional information on disposal of unused medicines.
Before initiating treatment with buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets, explain the points listed below to caregivers and patients. Instruct patients to read the Medication Guide each time buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets is dispensed because new information may be available.
- Buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets must be administered whole. Advise patients not to cut, chew, or swallow buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets
- Inform patients and caregivers that potentially fatal additive effects may occur if buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets are used with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, including alcohol. Counsel patients that such medications should not be used concomitantly unless supervised by a health care provider.
[see Warnings and Precautions (
5.3), Drug Interactions (
- Educate patients and caregivers on how to recognize respiratory depression and emphasize the importance of calling 911 or getting emergency medical help right away in the event of a known or suspected overdose [see Warning and Precautions ( 5.2)] .
- Patient Access to Naloxone for the Emergency Treatment of Opioid Overdose
Because patients being treated for opioid use disorder are at risk for relapse, discuss the importance of having access to naloxone with the patient and caregiver. Also discuss the importance of having access to naloxone if there are household members (including children) or other close contacts at risk for accidental ingestion or opioid overdose.
Inform patients and caregivers of the options for obtaining naloxone as permitted by individual state naloxone dispensing and prescribing requirements or guidelines (e.g., by prescription, directly from a pharmacist, or as part of a community-based program).
Educate patients and caregivers on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose.
Explain to patients and caregivers that naloxone’s effects are temporary, and that they must call 911 or get emergency medical help right away in all cases of known or suspected opioid overdose, even if naloxone is administered.
Repeat administration may be necessary, particularly for overdose involving buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets, because naloxone is often not effective at the doses available for patient access [Dosage and Administration ( 2.3), Warning and Precautions ( 5.2), Overdosage ( 10)] .
If naloxone is prescribed, also advise patients and caregivers:
- How to treat with naloxone in the event of an opioid overdose
- To tell family and friends about their naloxone and to keep it in a place where family and friends can easily access it in an emergency
- To read the Patient Information (or other educational material) that will come with their naloxone, Emphasize the importance of doing this before an opioid emergency happens, so the patient and caregiver will know what to do.
- Advise patients that buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets contain an opioid that can be a target for people who abuse prescription medications or street drugs, to keep their tablets in a safe place, and to protect them from theft.
- Instruct patients to keep buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets in a secure place, out of the sight and reach of children. Accidental or deliberate ingestion by a child may cause respiratory depression that can result in death. Advise patients to seek medical attention immediately if a child is exposed to Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets.
- Inform patients that opioids could cause a rare but potentially life-threatening condition resulting from concomitant administration of serotonergic drugs. Warn patients of the symptoms of serotonin syndrome and to seek medical attention right away if symptoms develop. Instruct patients to inform their healthcare providers if they are taking, or plan to take serotonergic medications [see Drug Interactions ( 7)].
- Inform patients that opioids could cause adrenal insufficiency, a potentially life-threatening condition. Adrenal insufficiency may present with non-specific symptoms and signs such as nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Advise patients to seek medical attention if they experience a constellation of these symptoms [see Warnings and Precautions ( 5.6)].
- Advise patients to never give buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets to anyone else, even if he or she has the same signs and symptoms. It may cause harm or death.
- Advise patients that selling or giving away this medication is against the law.
- Caution patients that buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets may impair the mental or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially dangerous tasks such as driving or operating machinery. Caution should be taken especially during drug induction and dose adjustment and until individuals are reasonably certain that buprenorphine therapy does not adversely affect their ability to engage in such activities [see Warnings and Precautions ( 5.13)].
- Advise patients not to change the dosage of buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets without consulting their healthcare provider.
- Advise patients that if they miss a dose of buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets they should take it as soon as they remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, they should skip the missed dose and take the next dose at the regular time.
- Advise patients to take buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets once a day.
- Inform patients that buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets can cause drug dependence and that withdrawal signs and symptoms may occur when the medication is discontinued.
- Advise patients seeking to discontinue treatment with buprenorphine for opioid dependence to work closely with their healthcare provider on a tapering schedule and inform them of the potential to relapse to illicit drug use associated with discontinuation of opioid agonist/partial agonist medication-assisted treatment.
- Advise patients that, like other opioids, buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets may produce orthostatic hypotension in ambulatory individuals [see Warnings and Precautions. ( 5.14)].
- Advise patients to inform their healthcare provider if any other prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, or herbal preparations are prescribed or currently being used [see Drug Interactions ( 7)]
- Advise women that if they are pregnant while being treated with buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets, the baby may have signs of withdrawal at birth and that withdrawal is treatable [see Warnings and Precautions ( 5.5), Use in Specific Populations ( 8.1)].
- Advise women who are breastfeeding to monitor the infant for drowsiness and difficulty breathing [see Use in Specific Populations ( 8.2)].
- Inform patients that chronic use of opioids may cause reduced fertility. It is not known whether these effects on fertility are reversible [see Females and Males of Reproductive Potential ( 8.3)].
- Advise patients to inform their family members that, in the event of emergency, the treating healthcare provider or emergency room staff should be informed that the patient is physically dependent on an opioid and that the patient is being treated with buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets.
- Inform patients and caregivers that potentially fatal additive effects may occur if buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets are used with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, including alcohol. Counsel patients that such medications should not be used concomitantly unless supervised by a health care provider. [see Warnings and Precautions ( 5.2, 5.3), Drug Interactions ( 7)].
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