What is Subutex?

December 16, 2022

Subutex is a brand name used for buprenorphine monoproduct (buprenorphine without naloxone). While Subutex is not sold under that name any longer, the public still refers to this medication as Subutex. 

Buprenorphine is a drug designed for treating opiate use disorder, or opiate addiction. Buprenorphine works by attaching itself to opiate receptors, blocking off opiates thus preventing overdoses, while at the same time stopping the brain’s craving for more opioids. 

 A list of commonly used opiates includes:

  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Opium
  • Morphine

A list of commonly used opioids, synthetically produced opiates, includes: 

  • Oxycontin
  • Roxicodone
  • Oxecta
  • Oxaydo
  • Xtampza
  • Percodan
  • Targino
  • Xartemis XR

The difference between Subutex and Suboxone is that Suboxone includes the medication naloxone in it (buprenorphine-naloxone). Naloxone is a complete anti-opioid (opioid agonist), however, it does not get absorbed by the body in sufficient amounts to cause any significant effects. The reason naloxone (Narcan) is added to Suboxone is to prevent some people from theoretically crushing up the medication and injecting it. This is more of a theoretical risk because it is difficult to get “high” off buprenorphine due to its partial anti-opioid effect. However, many states limit the prescriptions of Subutex due to this theoretical risk. Therefore Subutex is generally only reserved for a small subset of patients that cannot tolerate Suboxone—and it us rarely prescribed as the initial medication due to government scrutiny.