Side Effects of Buprenorphine (Subutex)
Buprenorphine, brand name Subutex, is a prescription medicine called an ‘opioid analgesic.’ It is used to treat patients addicted to opiate drugs (strong pain medications) such as heroin or morphine by acting as a substitute for these painkillers.
Serious Side Effects of Buprenorphine (Subutex)
The FDA reports Subutex may cause liver problems that include: yellow discoloration of skin or of the white part of eyes turns yellow (jaundice), dark color urine, stools turn light in color, decreased in appetite for several days or longer, nausea, and lower stomach pain. Your doctor will do blood tests to make sure the liver is functioning properly during treatment with Subutex.
Subutex can cause blood pressure to drop; this can make you feel dizzy if you get up quickly from sitting or lying down position. Subutex can cause allergic reactions that can manifest as difficulty in breathing, hives, swelling of face, lip or tongue, asthma (wheezing) or shock (loss of blood pressure and consciousness).
There is also a chance of abuse or addiction potential with Subutex that could lead to withdrawals if stopped suddenly.
Common Side Effects
Commonly reported side effects associated with the use of Subutex are:
- Insomnia or problems with sleeping
- Stomach pain
The FDA outlines other common symptoms of Subutex treatment: fainting and dizziness. If you are breathing slower than normal, it may be signs of an overdose and warrants immediate medical help.
Do not drink alcohol or take sedatives (medicines that help you sleep) while taking Subutex. Simultaneous intake of these products with buprenorphine can results in death.
You should not take benzodiazepines (medicines used to treat anxiety or sleep disorders) while you are taking Subutex, as these can cause an interaction. Subutex may make you feel sleepy and using the following medications can worsen the situation. Inform your doctor if you are taking any of these drugs: cough medicines and strong pain killers that contain opioid-related substances, antidepressants including monoamine oxidase inhibitors, sedatives, antihistamines, and medication for high blood pressure and anxiety.
Subutex sublingual tablets contain lactose. If you have intolerance to certain sugars, inform your physician before taking this medicine.
About Pharmacogenetic Testing
Until recently, doctors have used a trial and error method to find the right medication for the patient. The process is far from perfect, but it was the only option till the genetic testing science became more exact. What pharmacogenetic testing accomplishes, is examining the genes that interacts with the medications. If the medication interacts positively with the DNA, the drug can be handled appropriately. If not, the adverse reactions can occur. As a result, the trial and error process is eliminated and side effects can be avoided.
Know Your Risk for Side Effects with the Rxight® Genetic Test
To avoid Subutex complications, ask your doctor about pharmacogenetic testing with Rxight®. The simple DNA test (only a cheek swab is required) gives your doctor the ability to understand how you will react to the medication before it is used. If your body will not handle the drug properly, your doctor can adjust the dosing or find an alternative medication. The process is simple and results arrive quickly (7-10 days).
Contributors to this Article:
Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry
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