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What is Subutex and how is it different from Suboxone?

Subutex is another brand-name drug like Suboxone that contains buprenorphine. Just like Suboxone, it is placed under the tongue to dissolve. In fact, the two drugs are nearly identical when it comes to how they work and what they are used for. Yet, there is one important difference: Suboxone contains the abuse-deterrent, naloxone, and Subutex does not. Subutex podcasts have dedicated entire episodes to discuss this difference, because it is a point of confusion for many patients and their family members.

I thought Subutex was taken off the market. Is Subutex even available anymore?

It is true that the brand, Subutex, is no longer available as a brand-name drug. However, when people use the name, “Subutex”, what they mean is sublingual buprenorphine tablets that do not contain naloxone. The brand-name has simply become a household common name to describe the generic drug. While Subutex the brand is gone, the generic buprenorphine tablets are still available. So, in this sense, Subutex is still available, as a generic.

Is it true that Subutex can be taken sooner than Suboxone when taking it for the first time?

Some people believe that Subutex can be taken sooner than Suboxone after quitting opioids, as soon as 8 hours. Generally, patients are asked to wait at least 18-24 hours, or 12 hours at the very least, before starting Suboxone. This is to avoid precipitated withdrawal. Precipitated withdrawal is what happens when a patient takes Suboxone too soon and withdrawal symptoms are triggered. To clear things up about this, Subutex can also cause precipitated withdrawal, just like Suboxone. And, the time that the patient must wait is the same for either Subutex or Suboxone.

Does Suboxone cause more side effects than Subutex?

Since the naloxone part of Suboxone is very minimally absorbed when Suboxone is dissolved under the tongue, it tends to cause no side effects for most patients. Rarely, naloxone can contribute to side effects. For most patients, there is no difference between Suboxone and Subutex when it comes to side effects. However, as pointed out on many Subutex podcasts, there is one important case where Subutex is preferred over Suboxone?

When is Subutex the preferred choice over Suboxone?

When a woman becomes pregnant and she is taking Suboxone, her doctor should switch her to Subutex. Or, if a woman start treatment with buprenorphine for the first time and is already pregnant, Subutex is the preferred choice. This is because the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone may not be safe for the fetus. Because of this unknown, doctors are expected to choose the mono-product of plain buprenorphine sublingual tablets over combination products of buprenorphine/naloxone, such as Suboxone for their pregnant patients.

In what ways is Suboxone superior to Subutex?

While Suboxone is available as a generic tablet, most people take Suboxone as a fast-dissolving film strip. This strip is available as both a brand-name product and a generic. When it comes to Subutex, only generic tablets are available. Unfortunately, there is some variation from one generic tablet to the next. Patients often complain that Subutex tablets can take a long time to dissolve. The film is generally superior to the tablet and it is only available as Suboxone or the generic equivalent.

Do the generic Suboxone Films work as well as the brand?

Suboxone and Subutex podcasts have celebrated the release of the generic film ever since it was released. Before the generic Suboxone strip became available, prices were very high. Now that there is a generic Suboxone film, prices have come way down. For patients with insurance coverage, it is now easier to get insurance plans to pay for Suboxone films in the generic form. The release of these new generic films has been a positive development in the treatment of opioid addiction with medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

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