Buprenorphine has been associated with life-threatening respiratory depression and death. Many, but not all, post-marketing reports regarding coma and death involved misuse by self-injection or were associated with the concomitant use of buprenorphine and benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, including alcohol. Warn patients of the potential danger of self-administration of benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants while under treatment with Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3), Drug Interactions (7)] .
Use Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets with caution in patients with compromised respiratory function (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cor pulmonale, decreased respiratory reserve, hypoxia, hypercapnia, or pre-existing respiratory depression).
Educate patients and caregivers on how to recognize respiratory depression and emphasize the importance of calling 911 or getting emergency medical help right away in the event of a known or suspected overdose [see Patient Counseling Information (17)] .
Opioids can cause sleep-related breathing disorders including central sleep apnea (CSA) and sleep-related hypoxemia. Opioid use increases the risk of CSA in a dose-dependent fashion. In patients who present with CSA, consider decreasing the opioid dosage using best practices for opioid taper [see Dosage and Administration (2.8)] .
Patient Access to Naloxone for the Emergency Treatment of Opioid Overdose
Discuss the availability of naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose with the patient and caregiver.
Because patients being treated for opioid use disorder have the potential for relapse, putting them at risk for opioid overdose, strongly consider prescribing naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose, both when initiating and renewing treatment with Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets. Also consider prescribing naloxone if the patient has household members (including children) or other close contacts at risk for accidental ingestion or opioid overdose [see Dosage and Administration (2.3)].
Advise patients and caregivers that naloxone may also be administered for a known or suspected overdose with Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets itself. Higher than normal doses and repeated administration of naloxone may be necessary due to the long duration of action of Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets and its affinity for the mu opioid receptor [see Overdosage (10)] .
Inform patients and caregivers of their options for obtaining naloxone as permitted by individual state naloxone dispensing and prescribing requirements or guidelines (e.g., by prescription, directly from a pharmacist, or as part of a community-based program) .
Educate patients and caregivers on how to recognize respiratory depression and, if naloxone is prescribed, how to treat with naloxone. Emphasize the importance of calling 911 or getting emergency medical help, even if naloxone is administered [see Patient Counseling Information (17)].
Concomitant use of buprenorphine and benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants increases the risk of adverse reactions including overdose and death. Medication-assisted treatment of opioid use disorder, however, should not be categorically denied to patients taking these drugs. Prohibiting or creating barriers to treatment can pose an even greater risk of morbidity and mortality due to the opioid use disorder alone.
As a routine part of orientation to buprenorphine treatment, educate patients about the risks of concomitant use of benzodiazepines, sedatives, opioid analgesics, and alcohol.
Develop strategies to manage use of prescribed or illicit benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants at initiation of buprenorphine treatment, or if it emerges as a concern during treatment. Adjustments to induction procedures and additional monitoring may be required. There is no evidence to support dose limitations or arbitrary caps of buprenorphine as a strategy to address benzodiazepine use in buprenorphine-treated patients. However, if a patient is sedated at the time of buprenorphine dosing, delay or omit the buprenorphine dose if appropriate.
Cessation of benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants is preferred in most cases of concomitant use. In some cases, monitoring in a higher level of care for taper may be appropriate. In others, gradually tapering a patient off of a prescribed benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant or decreasing to the lowest effective dose may be appropriate.
For patients in buprenorphine treatment, benzodiazepines are not the treatment of choice for anxiety or insomnia. Before co-prescribing benzodiazepines, ensure that patients are appropriately diagnosed and consider alternative medications and non-pharmacologic treatments to address anxiety or insomnia. Ensure that other healthcare providers prescribing benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants are aware of the patient’s buprenorphine treatment and coordinate care to minimize the risks associated with concomitant use.
If concomitant use is warranted, strongly consider prescribing naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose, as is recommended for all patients in buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].
In addition, take measures to confirm that patients are taking their medications as prescribed and are not diverting or supplementing with illicit drugs. Toxicology screening should test for prescribed and illicit benzodiazepines [see Drug Interactions (7)].
Buprenorphine can cause severe, possibly fatal, respiratory depression in children who are accidentally exposed to it. Store buprenorphine-containing medications safely out of the sight and reach of children and destroy any unused medication appropriately [see Patient Counseling Information (17)] .
Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) is an expected and treatable outcome of prolonged use of opioids during pregnancy, whether that use is medically-authorized or illicit. Unlike opioid withdrawal syndrome in adults, NOWS may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated in the neonate. Healthcare professionals should observe newborns for signs of NOWS and manage accordingly [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)] .
Advise pregnant women receiving opioid addiction treatment with Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available [see Use in Specific Populations (8.1)] . This risk must be balanced against the risk of untreated opioid addiction which often results in continued or relapsing illicit opioid use and is associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. Therefore, prescribers should discuss the importance and benefits of management of opioid addiction throughout pregnancy.
Cases of adrenal insufficiency have been reported with opioid use, more often following greater than one month of use. Presentation of adrenal insufficiency may include non-specific symptoms and signs including nausea, vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. If adrenal insufficiency is suspected, confirm the diagnosis with diagnostic testing as soon as possible. If adrenal insufficiency is diagnosed, treat with physiologic replacement doses of corticosteroids. Wean the patient off of the opioid to allow adrenal function to recover and continue corticosteroid treatment until adrenal function recovers. Other opioids may be tried as some cases reported use of a different opioid without recurrence of adrenal insufficiency. The information available does not identify any particular opioids as being more likely to be associated with adrenal insufficiency.
Buprenorphine is a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptor and chronic administration produces physical dependence of the opioid-type, characterized by withdrawal signs and symptoms upon abrupt discontinuation or rapid taper. The withdrawal syndrome is typically milder than seen with full agonists and may be delayed in onset [see Drug Abuse and Dependence (9.3)] . When discontinuing Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets, gradually taper the dosage [see Dosage and Administration (2.8)].
Cases of cytolytic hepatitis and hepatitis with jaundice have been observed in individuals receiving buprenorphine in clinical trials and through post-marketing adverse event reports. The spectrum of abnormalities ranges from transient asymptomatic elevations in hepatic transaminases to case reports of death, hepatic failure, hepatic necrosis, hepatorenal syndrome, and hepatic encephalopathy. In many cases, the presence of pre-existing liver enzyme abnormalities, infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus, concomitant usage of other potentially hepatotoxic drugs, and ongoing injecting drug use may have played a causative or contributory role. In other cases, insufficient data were available to determine the etiology of the abnormality. Withdrawal of buprenorphine has resulted in amelioration of acute hepatitis in some cases; however, in other cases no dose reduction was necessary. The possibility exists that buprenorphine had a causative or contributory role in the development of the hepatic abnormality in some cases. Liver function tests, prior to initiation of treatment is recommended to establish a baseline. Periodic monitoring of liver function during treatment is also recommended. A biological and etiological evaluation is recommended when a hepatic event is suspected. Depending on the case, Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets may need to be carefully discontinued to prevent withdrawal signs and symptoms and a return by the patient to illicit drug use, and strict monitoring of the patient should be initiated.
Cases of hypersensitivity to buprenorphine and naloxone containing products have been reported both in clinical trials and in the post-marketing experience. Cases of bronchospasm, angioneurotic edema, and anaphylactic shock have been reported. The most common signs and symptoms include rashes, hives, and pruritus. A history of hypersensitivity to buprenorphine or naloxone is a contraindication to the use of Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets.
Because it contains naloxone, Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets are highly likely to produce marked and intense withdrawal signs and symptoms if misused parenterally by individual dependent on full opioid agonists such as heroin, morphine, or methadone. Because of the partial agonist properties of buprenorphine, Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual Tablets may precipitate opioid withdrawal signs and symptoms in such persons if administered sublingually before the agonist effects of the opioid have subsided.
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