If you have moderate-to-severe chronic pain, a healthcare provider may prescribe Butrans. This medication comes in the form of a skin patch that is applied every seven days. Each patch contains a narcotic pain medicine and is only approved for use in adults. At this time, there are no "off-label" (unapproved) uses for Butrans patches.
What Is Butrans Used For?Butrans® (buprenorphine patch) is a prescription skin patch approved to treat persistent, moderate-to-severe, chronic (long-lasting) pain. It should only be used to treat pain that requires continuous, around-the-clock treatment.
Butrans is meant to be used on a regular schedule. It is not approved for "as needed" or short-term use. It should also not be used to treat mild pain, acute pain (pain expected to last only a limited amount of time), pain that can be controlled with occasional pain medication, or pain from surgery or other medical or dental procedures.
Unlike many other strong prescription pain medications, Butrans is only a Schedule III controlled substance. This means that it is less likely to be abused, compared to drugs like morphine or oxycodone. It also means that your healthcare provider may phone or fax your prescription to a pharmacy and that you may be receive refills on the prescription.
How Does Butrans Work?Butrans is a skin patch that contains buprenorphine, an opioid narcotic medication. Butrans patches continuously release the same amount of buprenorphine over a seven-day period.
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, this drug 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 Butrans 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 them. This usually translates to less chance of abuse, although this is not always the case.