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Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it binds to those same opioid receptors but activates them less strongly than full agonists do. Like methadone, it can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in a person with an opioid use disorder without producing euphoria, and patients tend to tolerate it well. Research has found buprenorphine to be similarly effective as methadone for treating opioid use disorders, as long as it is given at a sufficient dose and for sufficient duration. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved buprenorphine in 2002, making it the first medication eligible to be prescribed by certified physicians through the Drug Addiction Treatment Act. This approval eliminates the need to visit specialized treatment clinics, thereby expanding access to treatment for many who need it. Additionally, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was signed into law in July 2016, temporarily expands eligibility to prescribe buprenorphine-based drugs for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to qualifying nurse practitioners and physician assistants through October 1, 2021. Buprenorphine has been available for opioid use disorders since 2002 as a tablet and since 2010 as a sublingual film. The FDA approved a 6-month subdermal buprenorphine implant in May 2016 and a once-monthly buprenorphine injection in November 2017. These formulations are available to patients stabilized on buprenorphine and will eliminate the treatment barrier of daily dosing for these patients.  .