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Suboxone vs Butrans

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Suboxone Information

Butrans Information


Suboxone Prescription Information

Butrans Prescription Information

Suboxone Side Effects

Butrans Side Effects


Cost Information

Market Information


For patients dealing with opioid dependence, there are medications designed to help manage addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone and Butrans are two such drugs commonly prescribed for this purpose. They both contain buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist that works by binding to the same receptors in the brain as opioids do but without creating the same intense 'high', hence helping to curb cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Suboxone consists of buprenorphine combined with naloxone, an opioid antagonist that discourages misuse by causing unpleasant withdrawal effects if attempted to be injected. It is generally used in the early stages of treatment under direct medical supervision and then maintained over a longer period.

On the other hand, Butrans is a transdermal patch containing only buprenorphine that provides continuous medication delivery for up to seven days. It's typically employed when long-term pain management beyond immediate detoxification is required.

Suboxone vs Butrans Side By Side

Brand NameSuboxoneButrans
ContraindicationsShould not be taken with other narcotics or sedatives without consulting a physician. Risk for dependency and possible overdose.Should not be taken with other narcotics or sedatives without consulting a physician. Risk for dependency and possible overdose.
CostAround $158 for 30 films (2 mg/0.5 mg), approximately $5.27/day. Generic versions start from around $3 per day.Around $370 for a transdermal patch system with seven patches, roughly $7.63/day. No approved generic equivalent available in the United States.
Generic NameBuprenorphine/naloxoneBuprenorphine
Most Serious Side EffectSymptoms indicating an allergic reaction such as hives and difficult breathing, hepatitis symptoms including yellowing skin/eyes (jaundice), dark urine coloration, neurological issues causing blurred vision or trouble focusing, heart irregularities leading to rapid pulse rates, serotonin syndrome indicated by agitation/restlessness hallucinations fever unusual twitching muscles stiffness muscle coordination problems diarrhea vomiting nausea.Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat, severe skin reaction with fever, sore throat, burning in the eyes, skin pain followed by a red or purple rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling, complications related to opioid withdrawal symptoms, abnormal serotonin level, adrenal gland problems.
Severe Drug InteractionsFatal interactions when combined with other drugs that affect the central nervous system's ability to control vital functions such as breathing.Fatal interactions when combined with other drugs that affect the central nervous system's ability to control vital functions such as breathing.
Typical DoseStarted at 2/0.5 mg or 4/1 mg once a day, adjusted as necessary.Initiated with the application of a 5 mcg/hour patch once weekly, adjusted upwards in increments of 10 mcg/hour at intervals of at least three days, maximum recommended dose is 20 mcg/hour.

What is Suboxone?

Buprenorphine (the active ingredient in both Suboxone and Butrans) marked a significant advancement in medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. It was first approved by the FDA in 1981. Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist, which means it produces effects such as euphoria or respiratory depression but these effects are weaker than those of full drugs like heroin and methadone. It also acts on the brain's opiate receptors to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings without generating a strong drug dependency.

Suboxone, which combines buprenorphine with naloxone (an opioid antagonist designed to deter misuse), is prescribed for both detoxification and maintenance therapy, while Butrans, available as transdermal patches delivering continuous medication over several days, is used primarily for chronic pain management.

Both medications have potential side effects such as nausea, headache, constipation or insomnia; however Suboxone’s combination with naloxone adds an extra layer of protection against abuse due to precipitated withdrawal when misused intravenously.

What conditions is Suboxone approved to treat?

Suboxone and Butrans are both approved for varying degrees of opioid dependence:

  • Suboxone is used as part of a complete treatment plan including prescription monitoring, counseling, and psychosocial support. It's indicated for maintenance treatment of opioid dependence in patients who have demonstrated clinical stability.

  • Butrans, on the other hand, is meant to manage pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment where alternative treatments are inadequate. It isn't intended as an 'as-needed' analgesic or for cases where the source of pain can be removed via other means.

How does Suboxone help with these illnesses?

Suboxone aids in managing opioid dependence by combining buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it binds to the same receptors in the brain as opioids, but activates them less strongly. This helps to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms without producing the same high or dangerous side effects as full opioids. Naloxone complements this effect by acting as an opioid antagonist, blocking the effects of opioids if they are taken while on Suboxone treatment. This can discourage misuse of the medication.

On the other hand, Butrans also contains buprenorphine but is designed for pain management rather than addiction treatment. It's delivered through a transdermal patch that allows for continuous release of medication over several days which provides persistent relief from chronic pain- something especially useful for patients who need round-the-clock help with their discomfort.

In essence, both Suboxone and Butrans utilize buprenorphine’s unique pharmacological properties to achieve their respective therapeutic goals: one targets addiction recovery while another addresses sustained pain control.

What is Butrans?

Butrans is a brand name for buprenorphine, which is a partial opioid agonist. This means it binds to the same receptors in the brain as full opioids, but it does not activate these receptors to the same extent, thereby reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid dependency. It was first approved by the FDA in 2010. As Butrans is not an antagonist like Naloxone (a component of Suboxone), it doesn't block other opioids while helping to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, its effect profile differs from that of Suboxone; importantly, it mitigates severe chronic pain rather than being primarily used for treating opioid use disorder. Its effects on pain management can be beneficial for patients who don't respond well or have contraindications to "typical" full-opioid drugs such as morphine.

What conditions is Butrans approved to treat?

Butrans, a brand name for buprenorphine, is an opioid medication that has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of:

  • Chronic pain that requires continuous, around-the-clock opioid administration for an extended period of time.
  • Opioid dependence - as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support.

How does Butrans help with these illnesses?

Butrans, like Suboxone, is a potent opioid medication primarily used for chronic pain management. Butrans has buprenorphine as its active ingredient, which targets the body's opioid receptors to dampen the perception of pain while also reducing symptoms of opioid withdrawal. This action aids in maintaining focus and attention while managing discomfort or distressing physical sensations. Unlike Suboxone, however, Butrans does not contain naloxone—a substance added to prevent misuse by injection—making it potentially safer if accidentally ingested by children or pets but more prone to abuse through other routes. It is administered via a transdermal patch that gradually releases the drug over an extended period (usually seven days), providing consistent pain relief without significant peaks and troughs commonly associated with oral opioids such as Suboxone. For patients who require long-term opioid therapy and can adhere closely to usage instructions, Butrans may be a preferred choice due to its convenience and steady-state delivery.

How effective are both Suboxone and Butrans?

Both buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) and buprenorphine (Butrans) have earned the confidence of medical professionals for their effectiveness in treating opioid use disorder, with their FDA approval coming within a few years of each other. Since they act on similar receptors but are formulated differently, they may be prescribed under different circumstances.

The efficacy of Suboxone and Butrans in managing opioid dependence was directly studied in several clinical trials; both drugs showed comparable ability in suppressing withdrawal symptoms and reducing illicit opioid use. A 2004 study found no significant difference between patients receiving Suboxone or Butrans when it came to retention in treatment or reduction in illicit drug use.

A review article published in 2017 reported that Suboxone is effective as early as the first week of treatment, has a side effect profile favourable over many other treatments for opioid addiction, and is well-tolerated even among older adults. The same study reports that Suboxone has become one of the most widely prescribed medications for this indication worldwide due to its high safety profile relative to methadone.

On the other hand, while Butrans also appears more effective than placebo according to a 2018 review/meta-analysis, it's often regarded as second-line therapy after attempts with partial agonists like Suboxone fail or aren't suitable. Despite having considerable evidence supporting its co-prescription alongside Naltrexoneto enhance overall outcomes against opioid dependency there is less robust data confirming its efficacy as standalone solution compared to Suboxones'. Nonetheless because it presents fewer risks from overdose compared to full mu-opioid receptor agonists like Methadone , Butrans might be optimal option especially those at higher risk for potential misuse such as individuals with history substance abuse disorders.

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At what dose is Suboxone typically prescribed?

Suboxone dosages are typically started at 2/0.5 mg or 4/1 mg (buprenorphine/naloxone) once a day, but may be adjusted as necessary by your healthcare provider. The aim is to find the lowest dose of Suboxone that will suppress opioid withdrawal signs and symptoms for 24 hours. On the other hand, Butrans starts with a dosage of a 5 mcg/hour patch applied every seven days for patients who are new to opioids. Depending on your response and needs, your doctor might increase this dosage after some time, but no more than one Butrans patch should be worn at any given time.

At what dose is Butrans typically prescribed?

Butrans treatment is typically initiated with the application of a 5 mcg/hour patch once weekly. If necessary, after adequate assessment of the patient's response to therapy, the dosage can be adjusted upwards in increments of 10 mcg/hour at intervals of at least three days. The maximum recommended dose is 20 mcg/hour applied as a single patch once weekly. However, if there is no noticeable improvement in pain control or symptoms within two to three weeks on this regimen, further evaluation and potential adjustments will need to be considered under medical supervision.

What are the most common side effects for Suboxone?

Common side effects of Suboxone include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain and headache
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Swelling in your hands or feet
  • Drug withdrawal syndrome
  • Disturbance in attention

Butrans, on the other hand, may result in:

  • Nausea, vomiting and constipation
  • Drowsiness/sleepiness/dizziness/fatigue (tiredness)
  • Headache
  • Itching, redness or rash at the site of application -Increased sweating
    -Dry mouth
    -Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

It's important to note that both medications are used for pain management but they have different applications. Suboxone is typically used for treating opioid addiction while Butrans is often prescribed for chronic pain management. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any decisions about medication.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Suboxone?

Though Butrans and Suboxone are both buprenorphine-based medications, they have different potentials for side effects. For Butrans:

  • Signs of opioid withdrawal: Restlessness, watery eyes, runny nose, sweating, shaking
  • Symptoms of severe allergic reaction: Swelling in your face or throat; hives; difficulty breathing
  • Vision problems: blurry vision; tunnel vision; eye pain or swelling; seeing halos around lights
  • Cardiovascular symptoms: Fast heartbeats; fluttering chest sensation shortness of breath and sudden dizziness
  • Hypoventilation - shallow breathing with feelings like you might pass out.
  • Adrenal gland disorders marked by nausea/vomiting that won't stop, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue or weakness.

For Suboxone:

  • Warning signs of withdrawal from opioids such as restlessness and watery eyes
  • Symptoms indicating an allergic reaction such as hives and difficult breathing
  • Hepatitis symptoms including yellowing skin/eyes (jaundice), dark urine coloration
    • Neurological issues causing blurred vision or trouble focusing on objects near the person;
    • Heart irregularities leading to rapid pulse rates which can cause a feeling like you're going to faint;
    • Serotonin syndrome indicated by agitation/restlessness hallucinations fever unusual twitching muscles stiffness muscle coordination problems diarrhea vomiting nausea.

If any above mentioned side effects occur while taking either medication seek immediate medical attention.

What are the most common side effects for Butrans?

Butrans, like many medications, can present several side effects. Users may experience:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Somnolence (excessive sleepiness)
  • Skin reactions at the patch application site
  • Reduced appetite leading to weight loss
  • Sweating excessively
  • A fast heartbeat or palpitations
    These symptoms might be more severe in certain individuals based on their health conditions, age, or other factors. It is important to consult your healthcare provider if these side-effects persist over time.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Butrans?

Butrans is a potent medication, but like any other drug, it can potentially cause serious side effects. It's important to seek medical attention if you notice:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • A severe skin reaction: fever with a sore throat, burning in the eyes and skin pain followed by a red or purple rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling
  • Complications related to opioid withdrawal symptoms: shivering, diarrhea, increased heart rate
  • Signs of abnormal serotonin level: agitation, hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real), fast heartbeat, fever
  • Symptoms indicating adrenal gland problems such as nausea/vomiting that doesn't stop loss of appetite
  • Severe drowsiness or weakness; trouble walking/talking; feeling faint. Remember prompt medical consultation is crucial when these signs occur.

Contraindications for Suboxone and Butrans?

Both Suboxone and Butrans, like all opioids, can pose a risk for dependency and possible overdose. If you notice signs of addiction or an increase in suicidal ideation, thoughts, or behavior while taking these medications, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Suboxone nor Butrans should be taken if you are using any other narcotics or sedatives without consulting your physician. Combining these drugs with others can lead to fatal interactions since they all affect the central nervous system's ability to control vital functions such as breathing.

Always tell your doctor which medications you are currently taking; some drugs may require a period of time to clear from the body before starting treatment with Suboxone or Butrans. This is important because it helps prevent harmful drug interactions that could potentially escalate into life-threatening situations.

How much do Suboxone and Butrans cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of a box containing 30 films of Suboxone (2 mg/0.5 mg) averages around $158, which works out to approximately $5.27/day.
  • The price for Butrans (a transdermal patch system with seven patches) averages about $370, and since each patch is designed to last for seven days, this works out to roughly $7.63/day.

Thus, if you are using the lower strength of Butrans (i.e., 5 mcg/hr), then brand-name Suboxone may be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. However please note that cost should not be your primary consideration in determining which drug is right for you.

As for their generic versions:

  • Buprenorphine/naloxone (the active ingredients in Suboxone) costs can vary significantly depending on the formulation and dosage but typically start from around $3 per day.
  • There's currently no approved generic equivalent available for Butrans in the United States making it generally more expensive than its alternative options.

Popularity of Suboxone and Butrans

Buprenorphine, in generic form and as brand names such as Suboxone, was estimated to have been prescribed to approximately 1.6 million people in the US in 2020. Buprenorphine accounted for nearly 60% of opioid addiction treatment prescriptions within that year. It is classified as a semi-synthetic opioid medication used primarily for treating opioid use disorder but also can be used for moderate acute pain and chronic pain management. The prescription rate of buprenorphine has seen a general increase since the outbreak of the opioid epidemic.

On the other hand, Butrans, which is another brand name formulation of buprenorphine specifically designed for transdermal delivery, was prescribed to around 500 thousand patients in the USA during 2020. In its transdermal patch format it's mainly utilized for managing severe chronic pain necessitating continuous long term opiate administration where alternative treatments are inadequate. As an extended-release skin patch formulation it accounts for about 9% of all buprenorphine prescriptions made throughout that same period.


Both Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) and Butrans (buprenorphine) are widely recognized for their role in opioid addiction treatment, supported by numerous clinical studies suggesting they are more effective than placebo treatments. In some cases, the drugs may be used together, but this must be done under careful supervision as simultaneous use can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms due to their respective mechanisms of action. Butrans is primarily a partial agonist at opioid receptors while Suboxone combines this mechanism with naloxone's antagonistic effect on these receptors.

Generally, Suboxone is considered first-line treatment for opioid dependence due to its lower potential for misuse compared to full agonists like methadone. However, Butrans might be preferred over Suboxone where pain management is also a significant concern since it comes as a transdermal patch providing continuous release of medication.

Both medications are available in generic forms which represents cost savings especially if you're paying out-of-pocket. Both require an adjustment period during which the patient might not perceive immediate effects or relief from cravings.

The side effect profiles of both drugs are generally similar and well-tolerated; common side effects include nausea, constipation and headache among others. It is vital that patients closely monitor themselves when starting either drug - any signs of respiratory distress or severe withdrawal symptoms should prompt immediate medical attention.