Pain Home > Butrans

Butrans is a medicated skin patch prescribed to relieve moderate-to-severe chronic pain. This medication contains a narcotic called buprenorphine, and there are strict laws regarding its use, as this drug does have potential for abuse. Buprenorphine binds to specific receptors in the body, which causes many effects, including pain relief. Potential side effects include nausea, headaches, and dizziness.

What Is Butrans?

Butrans® (buprenorphine patch) is a long-acting prescription opioid narcotic used to treat moderate-to-severe chronic (long-lasting) pain. It should be used only when around-the-clock (continuous) pain relief is needed. It comes in the form of a patch that is applied to the skin just once a week.
Butrans is a Schedule III controlled substance, which means there are strict laws and regulations controlling its use. Schedule III medications such as Butrans are considered to have less potential for abuse, compared with Schedule II medications like morphine or oxycodone.
(Click Butrans Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Butrans is manufactured by LTS Lohmann Therapie-Systeme AG for Purdue Pharma, L.P.

How Does Butrans Work?

Butrans is a skin patch that contains buprenorphine, an opioid narcotic medication. Butrans patches continuously release buprenorphine in the same amount 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 buprenorphine effects 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 Butrans use. These effects may include but are not limited to:
  • Pain relief
  • Drowsiness
  • 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.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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