Pharmacokinetics of Buprenorphine: A Comparison of Sublingual Tablet Versus Liquid after Chronic Dosing

Center for Human Toxicology (DEM), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Journal of Addiction Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.76). 06/2007; 1(2):88-95. DOI: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e31806dcc3e
Source: PubMed


Although buprenorphine is approved for use in the outpatient treatment of opioid addiction in 2 tablet formulations, a monoproduct containing buprenorphine only (Subutex) and a buprenorphine/naloxone combination product (Suboxone), much of the clinical data that support the approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were generated by using a sublingual liquid. To interpret the literature in prescribing parameters for tablet buprenorphine, this study was designed to determine steady state buprenorphine plasma levels for the 2 formulations and to assess the relative bioavailability of each. A randomized, double-blind, crossover study with dose increases was conducted during a 12-week period at an outpatient treatment clinic. Of the 184 subjects initially randomized to treatment, 133 (72.3%) were evaluated for the steady-state trough plasma concentration, 16 (8.7%) for relative bioavailability, and 31 (16.8%) for dose proportionality. At steady state, differences in the trough plasma concentrations of buprenorphine between the 2 formulations were found across all the dose levels. Average plasma concentration (Cavg) of the tablet at twice the milligram dose of the liquid was twice that of the liquid; intersubject variability was greater for the tablet. At double the dose of tablet, there is no difference in steady state plasma concentrations. The bioavailability seems equivalent for the 2 formulations across all the dose levels.

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    • "In the buprenorphine group, 80% of the patients were given buprenorphine/naloxone; thus, they were also given sublingual naloxone in a ratio of 1:4 together with their buprenorphine dose. Several studies have shown that among OD individuals sublingual naloxone has minimal if any interference with the opioid agonist effects of the buprenorphine [24-26]. Other prescribed psychoactive medications were given to the patients according to their clinical dose regimen. "
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    ABSTRACT: Opioid-substitution treatment (OST) for opioid dependence (OD) has proven effective in retaining patients in treatment and reducing illegal opiate abuse and crime. Consequently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed the opioid agonists methadone and buprenorphine as essential drugs for OD that should be available worldwide. In many areas of the world, OD is often associated with concomitant benzodiazepine (BZD) dependence and abuse, which complicates treatment. However, possible changes in the cognitive functioning of these patients are not well-known. The present study is the first to examine longitudinal stability of memory function in OST patients with BZD use, thus providing a new tool for health policy authorities in evaluating the usefulness of OST. Within the first two months (T1) and between 6-9 months (T2) after OST admission, we followed the working memory, immediate verbal memory, and memory consolidation of 13 methadone- and 15 buprenorphine- or buprenorphine/naloxone-treated patients with BZD dependence or abuse disorder. The results were compared to those of fifteen normal comparison participants. All participants also completed a self-reported memory complaint questionnaire on both occasions. Both patient groups performed statistically significantly worse than normal comparison participants in working memory at time points T1 and T2. In immediate verbal memory, as measured by list learning at T1, patients scored lower than normal comparison participants. Both patient groups reported significantly more subjective memory problems than normal comparison participants. Patients with more memory complaints recalled fewer items at T2 from the verbal list they had learned at T1 than those patients with fewer memory complaints. The significance of the main analyses remained nearly the same when the statistical tests were performed without buprenorphine-only patients leaving 12 patients to buprenorphine/naloxone group. Working memory may be persistently affected in OST patients with BZD use. A high number of memory complaints among OST patients with BZD use may indicate memory consolidation impairment. These findings show that recovery of memory function in OD patients treated along with BZDs takes time, and their memory complaints may have practical relevance.
    Full-text · Article · May 2009 · Substance Abuse Treatment Prevention and Policy
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    ABSTRACT: Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) comprises the partial mu-opioid receptor agonist buprenorphine in combination with the opioid antagonist naloxone in a 4 : 1 ratio. When buprenorphine/naloxone is taken sublingually as prescribed, the naloxone exerts no clinically significant effect, leaving the opioid agonist effects of buprenorphine to predominate. However, when buprenorphine/naloxone is parenterally administered in patients physically dependent on full agonist opioids, the opioid antagonism of naloxone causes withdrawal effects, thus reducing the abuse potential of the drug combination. Buprenorphine/naloxone is an effective maintenance therapy for opioid dependence and has generally similar efficacy to methadone, although more data are needed. Less frequent dispensing of buprenorphine/naloxone (e.g. thrice weekly) does not appear to compromise efficacy and can improve patient satisfaction. Buprenorphine/naloxone is more effective than clonidine as a medically-supervised withdrawal therapy. Moreover, buprenorphine/naloxone is a generally well tolerated medically-supervised withdrawal and maintenance treatment. Thus, sublingual buprenorphine/naloxone is a valuable pharmacotherapy for the treatment of opioid dependence.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2009 · Drugs
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    ABSTRACT: As a treatment agent for opioid dependence, buprenorphine is a nearly ideal medication at our current stage of medication development. Unlike methadone, buprenorphine dosage can be rapidly adjusted with minimal potential for inducing severe consequences. In addition to its intrinsic safety, buprenorphine's relatively low abuse liability in the combination product (i.e., with naloxone as Suboxone) makes it even more acceptable in regulatory quarters as well as to prescribing physicians. The approval of buprenorphine as a pharmacotherapy for opioid dependence returns to physicians the ability to treat their opioid-dependent patients with an effective opioid-based treatment for the first time in nearly 100 years. Buprenorphine is an opioid, however, and potential for misuse remains, even in combination with naloxone. Whether buprenorphine will be increasingly accepted as a treatment for opioid-dependent patients depends on clinicians recognizing the advantages of its uniquely useful properties while still heeding the need to manage their patients' therapy with reasonable vigilance.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2009 · Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics
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