Suboxone Treatment for Pain
Suboxone contains two drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone. The first one is a partial opioid, and the second is a drug that blocks the narcotic effects of the likes of morphine and heroin. By "partial opioid," it is meant to describe a drug that binds to the opiate receptors in the brain without creating as strong a euphoric effect.
Suboxone was approved by the US Food & Drug Administration in 2002. It comes in the form of a tablet the patient puts under their tongue, which then dissolves into the blood vessels. It is also administered as a film to be placed on the tongue to dissolve.
What is Suboxone Approved for?
Suboxone is FDA approved for only one indication: the maintenance treatment of a dependence on or addiction to opioids.
When it first reached the market in 2002 there was a lot of excitement that Suboxone would be a wonder drug for opioid addicts, and it has been that drug for some. Unfortunately, it can be and often is abused like other opioids, despite the fact that it must be taken under the supervision of the prescribing doctor.
What About Suboxone Treatment for Pain?
If a doctor is prescribing Suboxone to a patient in order to relieve temporary or chronic pain conditions, the doctor is doing so "off-label" because the drug is not FDA approved accordingly.
This doesn't mean it is illegal. It merely means that some insurance companies may not pay for the drug if dispensed for pain management, and further, that the manufacturer cannot advertise about Suboxone's potential for the treatment of chronic pain.
As a partial opioid agonist, Suboxone likely has analgesic qualities similar to other opioids. However, the presence of the naloxone is pointless in a pain management patient.