Buprenorphine and Naloxone (Page 3 of 12)

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 and naloxone sublingual tablet, gradually taper the dosage [see Dosage and Administration ( 2.8)].

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 and naloxone 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 and naloxone-containing 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 or naloxone is a contraindication to the use of buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets.

5.10 Precipitation of Opioid Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

Because it contains naloxone, buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets are highly likely to produce marked and intense withdrawal signs and symptoms if misused parenterally by individuals dependent on full opioid agonists such as heroin, morphine, or methadone. Because of the partial agonist properties of buprenorphine, buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets may precipitate opioid withdrawal signs and symptoms in such persons if administered sublingually before the agonist effects of the opioid 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 and naloxone sublingual tablets are not appropriate as an analgesic.

5.12 Use in Patients With Impaired Hepatic Function

Buprenorphine/naloxone products are not recommended in patients with severe hepatic impairment and may not be appropriate for patients with moderate hepatic impairment. The doses of buprenorphine and naloxone in this fixed-dose combination product cannot be individually titrated, and hepatic impairment results in a reduced clearance of naloxone to a much greater extent than buprenorphine. Therefore, patients with severe hepatic impairment will be exposed to substantially higher levels of naloxone than patients with normal hepatic function. This may result in an increased risk of precipitated withdrawal at the beginning of treatment (induction) and may interfere with buprenorphine’s efficacy throughout treatment.. In patients with moderate hepatic impairment, the differential reduction of naloxone clearance compared to buprenorphine clearance is not as great as in subjects with severe hepatic impairment. However, buprenorphine/naloxone products are not recommended for initiation of (treatment induction) in patients with moderate hepatic impairment due to the increased risk of precipitated withdrawal. Buprenorphine/naloxone products may be used with caution for maintenance treatment in patients with moderate hepatic impairment who have initiated treatment on a buprenorphine product without naloxone. However, patients should be carefully monitored and consideration given to the possibility of naloxone interfering with buprenorphine’s efficacy [see Use in Specific Populations ( 8.6)].

5.13 Impairment of Ability to Drive or Operate Machinery

Buprenorphine and naloxone 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 and Naloxone Sublingual Tablet therapy does not adversely affect his or her ability to engage in such activities.

5.14 Orthostatic Hypotension

Like other opioids, buprenorphine and naloxone 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)]

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