Is Bunavail safe?
Yes, Bunavail is generally a safe medication.
Bunavail is used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help people reduce or quit the use of heroin or other opiates, such as pain relievers like morphine.
This article provides you with information about the safe use of Bunavail in treatment, plus its side effects. Additionally, some of you may be wondering if Bunavail is safe for long-term treatment, or not.
We’ll review and answer these questions here. Then, we invite your questions about the safe use of Bunavail at the end. In fact, we try to answer ALL legitimate questions personally and promptly.
Bunavail was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the maintenance treatment of drug dependence, to be used as part of a complete treatment plan which include counseling and psychosocial support. The main ingredients found in Bunavail are buprenorphine and naloxone.
Bunavail is a controlled substance (CIII) because it contains buprenorphine, which can be a target for people who abuse prescription medicines or street drugs. When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is safe and effective. It is not known if Bunavail is safe or effective in children and should not be used when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Additionally, prescription is limited under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act and is available only with a certified doctor’s prescription.
How does Bunavail (buprenorphine) work? Bunavail works in the body by helping:
- Diminish the effects of physical dependency to the opiate or opioid you’re addicted to. It helps minimize withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Increase safety precautions in cases of overdose.
- Lower the potential for misuse.
To be more specific, we’ll explain a little more about drug dependence. When you use a narcotic medicine for a long time, it becomes habit-forming, causing mental or physical dependence. Physical dependence may lead to withdrawal side effects if the narcotic is stopped suddenly.
Severe withdrawal side effects can usually be prevented when a person is switched to Bunavail. It acts on the central nervous system (CNS) to help prevent the withdrawal side effects.
Can taking Bunavail cause serious side effects?
Bunavail may cause side effects and you should consult your doctor if any of these symptoms appear and do not go away:
- back pain
- blurred vision
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- mouth numbness or redness
- stomach pain
- tongue pain
Further, these are some of the more serious side effects:
- dark-colored urine
- lack of energy
- light-colored stools
- loss of appetite
- upset stomach
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- blurred vision
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- extreme tiredness
- pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- skin rash
- slowed breathing
- slurred speech
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- unusual bleeding or bruising
If you feel faint, dizzy and confused, or if your breathing gets much slower than is normal for you, then you should call your doctor right away or get emergency help because these can be signs of an overdose or other serious problems.
SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS: An overdose, and even death, can happen if you take Bunavail at the same time that you are using:
NOTE HERE: Do not inject (“shoot-up”) Bunavail because:
1. Injecting Bunavail may cause life-threatening infections and other serious health problems.
2. Injecting Bunavail may cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as:
- sleep problems
How much Bunavail is safe to take?
Most Bunavail buccal film prescriptions are prescribed as a single daily dose of buprenorphine/naloxone. The recommended daily dose for maintenance is 8.4 mg/1.4 mg. Dosage should be adjusted using increments/decrements of 2.1/0.3 mg Bunavail buccal film units. Maintenance doses range from 2.1/0.3 mg to 12.6/2.1 mg Bunavail per day. Doses above this range have not been shown to provide a clinical advantage.
Bunavail safety instructions
This medication comes in the form of buccal film. Your health caregiver should show you how to use Bunavail. When taking Bunavail film rinse your mouth with water to moisten it. Place the side of the film with the text (BN2, BN4, or BN6) against the inside of your cheek. If your doctor told you to use more than 1 film, place the second film inside your other cheek. Do not place more than 2 films inside of 1 cheek at a time. Do not move or touch the film. Do not eat or drink anything until the film is completely dissolved.
When taking a sublingual (under the tongue) film, drink some water to help moisten your mouth. Place the film under your tongue. If your doctor told you to use more than 1 film, place the second film on the opposite side from the first one. Do not move the film after you place it under your tongue. If you are supposed to use more than 2 films, use them the same way, but do not start until the first 2 films are completely dissolved.
When taking a sublingual tablet, place the tablet under your tongue. If your doctor told you to use more than 1 tablet, place all of the tablets in different places under your tongue at the same time. You can use 2 tablets at a time until you have taken all of the medicine, if that is easier for you. Let the tablets dissolve completely in your mouth. Do not eat or drink anything until the tablets are completely dissolved.
Do not break, crush, chew, or cut the film or tablet.
NOTE HERE: Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you.
You must let the medicine dissolve. Never swallow the film or tablet. Your body may not absorb enough of the medicine if you swallow it.
NOTE ALSO: Do not switch from Bunavail to other medicines that contain buprenorphine without talking with your doctor. Also, talk to your doctor about drinking grapefruit juice while taking or using this medicine.
For additional safety, have these rules in mind:
- Bunavail is not for occasional or “as needed” use.
- Never give your Bunavail to anyone else. It can cause death or harm them.
- Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.
Who should not take Bunavail?
People allergic to buprenorphine or naloxone. Before taking Bunavail, tell your doctor if you:
- Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Bunavail can pass into your breast milk and may harm your baby.
- Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Bunavail will harm your unborn baby. If you take Bunavail while pregnant, your baby may have symptoms of withdrawal at birth. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
- Have Addison’s disease.
- Have adrenal gland problems.
- Have a curve in your spine that affects your breathing.
- Have a head injury or brain problem.
- Have a history of alcoholism.
- Have an enlarged prostate gland (men).
- Have problems urinating.
- Have gallbladder problems.
- Have liver or kidney problems.
- Have low thyroid (hypothyroidism).
- Have mental problems such as hallucinations.
- Have trouble breathing or lung problems.
- Have any other medical condition.
Is Bunavail safe for long term use?
Bunavail contains an opioid that can cause physical dependence. After a long term use you could become sick with uncomfortable withdrawal signs and symptoms because your body will become used to this medicine. We recommend not to stop taking Bunavail without talking to your doctor first.
How to come off Bunavail safely?
If you plan to come off Bunavail, do not stop using this medicine suddenly. Ask your doctor to slowly decrease your dose before you stop it completely. This process is called “tapering”. The most effective and safest way to taper is under a physician and pharmacist’s supervision.
Bunavail safety questions
If you still have questions about Bunavail safety or use, please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.
Reference Sources: PBM: Buprenorphine / Naloxone Buccal Film (Bunavail) C-III National PBM Abbreviated Drug Review
Photo credit: DailyMed