Is Bunavail like Suboxone?

Read about the similarities and differences between Suboxone and Bunavail for the treatment of opioid dependence and addiction here.

minute read

Yes and no.

Suboxone and Bunavail are Schedule III narcotics that contain a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone as active ingredients. Both these meds are prescribed in the treatment of opioid addiction. The buprenorphine in these medications is an opioid, while the naloxone is substance that reverses the effects of opioid drugs. The combination is made to lower the chances for abuse and addiction to buprenorphine.

They may seem to be the same drug under a different brand name, but Suboxone and Bunavail have their significant differences. Continue reading as we get into the details about these medicines and compare their effects. If you have any questions and comments, you can post them in the section at the end of the page.

Bunavail and Suboxone similarities

Suboxone and Bunavail are different from current medications (like methadone) used in the maintenance phase of opioid addiction treatment. They are more convenient, are prescribed in doctor’s office, and are available in most commercial pharmacies. As patients progress in therapy, they may even be allowed to take a supply of the medication and use it at home.

Note here that both Bunavail and Suboxone are not intended to be used as stand alone treatments. Instead, medication should be combined as a part of a complete treatment program that includes counseling, individual, group or family therapy sessions, cognitive-behavioral and educational classes, psychological support, and adopting new, positive life-style practices.

Bunavail and Suboxone: How supplied and dosing

Suboxone is supplied in the form of sublingual tablets, taken by placing the tablet under the tongue and waiting for it to dissolve. Suboxone is available in two strengths:

  • 2 mg buprenorphine/ 0.5 mg naloxone
  • 8 mg buprenorphine / 2 mg naloxone

Bunavail, on the other hand, is made of a buccal film that stick to the mucosa on the inside of the cheek and are then quickly dissolved. Bunavail is available in three different strengths:

  • 2.1 mg buprenorphine/0.3mg naloxone
  • 4.2 mg buprenorphine/0.7mg naloxone
  • 6.3 mg buprenorphine/1mg naloxone

Bunavail and Suboxone differences

1. Mode of administration/delivery mechanism

One of the main differences between these two medicines is that Bunavail buccal film delivers buprenorphine through the buccal mucosa, while Suboxone is taken sublingually (put under the tongue). Bunavail offers delivers a dose of buprenorphine to the bloodstream via a polymer film that attaches to the buccal mucosa at the inside of the cheek. The film will disappear within 15-30 minutes, it has a pleasant taste and doesn’t disrupt swallowing or speaking while dissolving. However, speaking is not as easy with Suboxone sublingual.

2. Bioavailability

You have probably noticed that Bunavail comes in lower dose strengths than Suboxone. Taking one Bunavail 4.2 mg/0.7mg buccal film will provide equivalent level of buprenorphine in the system as taking 8mg/2mg Suboxone sublingual tablet. The level of naloxone supplied with Bunavail buccal film is about 33% lower than naloxone levels supplied by Suboxone sublingual.

It doesn’t make Bunavail less effective in the maintenance treatment for opioid dependence. Instead, Bunavail buccal film is designed with the new BEMA delivery technology or BioErodible MucoAdhesive drug delivery mechanism. This allows Bunavail to be absorbed more quickly than Suboxone, so patients need a lower dose to achieve the same effects.

However, this difference in bioavailability between Bunavail and Suboxone requires a different dosage strength to be administered by patients who are switching from one to the other (generally from Suboxone to Bunavail). It’s important for doctors to prescribe dosage strengths that will correspond to the amount and strength in which the other medication was taken.

3. Less risk

Taking your maintenance medication in lower doses, while achieving the same medical effects is great because you have less chances of developing cross-addiction and getting unwanted side-effects.

Bunavail v.s. Suboxone questions

We hope we answered all you wanted to know about the similarities and differences between Suboxone sublingual tablets and Bunavail buccal film. Keep in mind that a doctor’s clearance and approval are crucial for prescribing either one of these medications, and for switching from one to the other.

If you have any further questions you’d like to ask us, please post them in the section below and we’ll do our best to provide a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: PBM: Buprenorphine/Naloxone Buccal Film (BUNAVAIL )
FDA: BUNAVAIL (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film
NCBI: New Drug Approvals: New Formulations: Bunavail for Opioid Dependence; page 5
NC State Health Plan: Buprenorphine tablets and Buprenorphine/Naloxonetablets/films
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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