Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a major public health concern in the United States that is quickly approaching epidemic proportions. Studies show the prevalence of OUD nearly doubled between 2002 and 2018. On top of that, in one month in 2015, around 4 million people reported misusing prescription pain medication. Even more concerningly, the number of deaths due to drug overdose has tripled over the past decade.
Luckily, medication-assisted treatments (MAT) are a safe and effective option to combat OUD. Examples of medications used for this purpose include buprenorphine, methadone, and Suboxone. Studies show MAT can increase user compliance, lower the risk of relapse and reduce the incidence of suicide. At the same time, it also decreases the chances of opioid overdose-related deaths.While many medications for OUD exist, they are not equal. This article compares the two of the most popular options: Suboxone and buprenorphine. Read on to learn more.
Why Are Buprenorphine Containing Treatments Preferred?
Health care providers prefer buprenorphine-based treatments to other medications for three main reasons.
Lower Risk of Overdose
In a study of over 16,000 people, researchers found the risk of overdose death to be four times lower with buprenorphine compared to methadone.
According to the 2018 SUPPORT act, qualified practitioners can prescribe buprenorphine in private offices. But, medications such as methadone are only available in single doses from federally regulated facilities.
Fewer Drug Interactions
A review of medications shows buprenorphine has fewer drug interactions than other OUD medications. This is important because users receiving MAT are often on other treatments such as antiretroviral therapy for HIV.
Is Buprenorphine the Same as Suboxone?
Buprenorphine and Suboxone aren't the same. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist FDA-approved for use in OUD and pain management. Suboxone is a brand-name medication containing two active ingredients, buprenorphine, and naloxone. It is only FDA-approved for OUD.