Maintenance therapy with methadone or buprenorphine-based regimens reduces opioid dependence and associated harms. The perception that methadone is more effective than buprenorphine for maintenance treatment has been based on low buprenorphine doses and excessively slow induction regimens used in early buprenorphine trials. Subsequent studies show that the efficacy of buprenorphine sublingual tablet (Subutex®) or buprenorphine/naloxone sublingual tablet (Suboxone®) is equivalent to that of methadone when sufficient buprenorphine doses, rapid induction, and flexible dosing are used. Although methadone remains an essential maintenance therapy option, buprenorphine-based regimens increase access to care and provide safer, more appropriate treatment than methadone for some patients.
© American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.