Buprenorphine for Pain
A narcotic medication, buprenorphine (Buprenex®, Butrans®, Subutex®, Suboxone®) comes in many forms, two of which are approved for pain treatment. The other two forms are used to treat opioid dependence.
The form of buprenorphine sold as Buprenex is approved to treat moderate-to-severe pain. It is given by injection into a muscle (intramuscular injection) or by intravenous infusion (by IV). Most often, it is used when other, more commonly used pain relievers (like morphine or fentanyl) are not tolerated or should not be used for other reasons.
The other form, Butrans, is a prescription skin patch used to treat persistent, moderate-to-severe chronic (long-lasting) pain. It should only be used to treat pain that requires continuous, "around-the-clock" management.
(To learn how this drug works to treat pain, click What Is Buprenorphine Used For?. This article also discusses some of the other uses of buprenorphine.)