Suboxone Versus Subutex
As you probably already know, Subutex is a brand name for buprenorphine. Buprenorphine, sometimes simply called bupe, is a medication that treats opioid addiction. So, when it comes to Suboxone versus buprenorphine, which is best?
Apple and apples.
In fact, these two prescription drugs are nearly identical. It is hard to compare which is best when they are nearly the same thing. Bupe is the active ingredient in both Suboxone and Subutex. The difference lies in a second ingredient added to Suboxone. This added ingredient is naloxone.
What is naloxone?
Naloxone is a powerful opioid blocker. It is also used in the brand Narcan as a life-saving overdose reversal drug. It is added to Suboxone as an abuse deterrent.
How does naloxone stop abuse of Suboxone?
You may wonder why anyone would abuse Suboxone in the first place. While it is technically an opioid, it is has unique properties and is not something that most drug abusers seek to use to get high. However, it is believed that there are drug abusers who will choose to convert Bupe into a form that can be injected. This article describes buprenorphine diversion and abuse around the world. If they do attempt to inject Suboxone, the second ingredient, naloxone, will make them feel very sick for a short time. So, naloxone exists in Suboxone to prevent IV drug abusers from injecting Suboxone. However, for the responsible patient who takes Suboxone as directed, naloxone will have no effect at all.
If naloxone serves a useful purpose in Suboxone, why does Subutex even exist?
When it comes to the question of Suboxone versus Buprenorphine, there are situations where plain bupe will be preferred. Pregnancy is a perfect example. The combination of bupe with naloxone is considered to be unsafe to the fetus. Another example is when a patient has an adverse reaction to naloxone. While it typically has no effect when Suboxone is used properly, naloxone can cause negative side effects in some patients. Therefore, Subutex, or plain buprenorphine still has its uses.
Suboxone versus buprenorphine: Which is best in treatment programs?
Interestingly, there are now addiction treatment programs that administer daily buprenorphine. Since they directly observe the patient taking their medication, there is no need for the additional abuse deterrent, naloxone. In fact, there may soon be a buprenorphine wafer that is very fast dissolving for use in such treatment centers.