Buprenex is licensed to treat moderate-to-severe pain. Specifically, this medication is commonly used for relieving pain following a surgery when other pain relievers, such as morphine or fentanyl, are not an appropriate pain reliever. Healthcare providers may also occasionally recommend off-label uses of Buprenex, such as for addiction treatment or pain relief during labor and childbirth.
What Is Buprenex Used For?Buprenex® (buprenorphine injection) is a prescription medication approved to treat moderate-to-severe pain. It is typically used in hospitals or other similar settings, as it is given by injection into a muscle (intramuscular injection) or by intravenous infusion (by IV).
As an example, Buprenex might be used to treat pain after a surgery. In the "real world," this drug is most often used when other, more commonly used pain relievers (like morphine or fentanyl) are not tolerated or should not be used for other reasons.
Unlike some other forms of buprenorphine, Buprenex is not approved for treating opioid dependence or withdrawal.
How Does Buprenex Work?Buprenex contains buprenorphine, an opioid narcotic medication. Buprenorphine binds to a specific type of opioid receptor, called the opioid mu-receptor. Opioid mu-receptors are located throughout the body. While the main effects of buprenorphine occur in the central nervous system, buprenorphine can produce effects anywhere opioid mu-receptors are found.
Some of these effects, such as pain relief, are desirable. Other effects are undesirable and cause the side effects associated with Buprenex use. Effects of buprenorphine may include but are not limited to:
- Pain relief
- Changes in mood, including feelings of unease (dysphoria) or unusually pleasant feelings (euphoria)
- Cough suppression
- Slowed or shallow breathing
- Slowing of the digestive tract
- Physical dependence.
Interestingly, buprenorphine is a partial (not full) agonist of mu-receptors. This means that it binds to the receptors, but only partially activates the receptors. This usually translates to less chance of abuse, although this is not always the case.