In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid developed in the late 1960s and is used to treat pain and opioid use disorder. This drug is a synthetic analog of thebaine—an alkaloid compound derived from the poppy flower. Buprenorphine is categorized as a Schedule III drug, which means it has a moderate-to-low potential for physical dependence or a high potential for psychological dependence. Buprenorphine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat acute and chronic pain and opioid dependence. This drug is used in agonist substitution treatment—a method for addressing addiction by substituting a more potent full agonist opioid, such as heroin, with a less potent opioid, such as buprenorphine or methadone. The substitute substance is then gradually tapered down by the prescriber, allowing the patient to withdraw from the opiate addiction with minimal discomfort. This activity reviews the FDA-approved indications, mechanism of action, administration, adverse event profile, toxicity, and management of buprenorphine therapy, pertinent for members of the interprofessional healthcare team involved in the treatment of patients with opioid misuse.

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