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buprenorphine (oral) (cont.)

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking buprenorphine (Subutex)?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to buprenorphine or naloxone (Narcan), or if you have used another narcotic drug within the past 4 hours.

To make sure you can safely take buprenorphine, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorders;
  • liver disease (especially hepatitis B or C);
  • kidney disease;
  • a thyroid disorder;
  • stomach problems;
  • enlarged prostate, urination problems;
  • gallbladder disease;
  • curvature of the spine;
  • Addison's disease (an adrenal gland disorder);
  • a history of mental illness, personality disorder, or psychotic episode;
  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction; or
  • a history of seizures, head injury, or brain tumor.

Buprenorphine may be habit forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Never share buprenorphine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Buprenorphine can cause withdrawal effects in a person who is addicted to narcotics. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether buprenorphine will harm an unborn baby. Buprenorphine may cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms in a newborn if the mother takes the medication during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using buprenorphine.

Do not give this medication to a child.

How should I take buprenorphine (Subutex)?

Never take buprenorphine in larger amounts, or for longer than recommended by your doctor. Using buprenorphine improperly will increase your risk of serious side effects or death. Even if you have used other narcotic medications, you may still have serious side effects from buprenorphine. Follow all dosing instructions carefully. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.

Never crush a tablet or other pill to mix into a liquid for injecting the drug into your vein. This practice has resulted in death with the misuse of buprenorphine and similar prescription drugs.

The buprenorphine sublingual tablet should be placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve. Do not chew the tablet or swallow it whole. If your doctor has prescribed more than 2 tablets per dose, place the correct number of tablets under your tongue at the same time and allow them to dissolve completely.

Wear a medical alert tag or carry an ID card stating that you take buprenorphine, in case of emergency. Any doctor, dentist, or emergency medical care provider who treats you should know that you are being treated for narcotic addiction. Make sure your family members know you are using buprenorphine in case they need to speak for you during an emergency.

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your liver function will need to be checked with frequent blood tests. Visit your doctor regularly.

If you need to have any type of surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using buprenorphine. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

Do not stop using buprenorphine suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using buprenorphine. You may need to use less and less before you stop the medication completely.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Keep track of the amount of medicine used from each new bottle. Buprenorphine is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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