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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Accidental Ingestion of Buprenorphine by Children

English: Suboxone tablet - both sides.
Buprenorphine, otherwise known as Suboxone or Subutex, is the medication of choice when it comes to treating opioid addiction. While the drug has been found to be addictive, it has also shown great promise when it comes to minimizing the symptoms associated with heroin and prescription opioid withdrawal. In a treatment setting buprenorphine has been found to be safe and effective; however, there are a number of addicts who are on buprenorphine maintenance programs, merely exchanging one drug for another.

Addicts that are prescribed buprenorphine for take home use may start abusing the drug and could be putting the lives of their loved ones at risk. A new report has found that buprenorphine is the prescription drug most commonly tied to emergency hospitalizations of young children, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Research showed that 200 children, ages 6 and younger, were hospitalized after ingesting buprenorphine for every 100,000 patients prescribed the drug. While the numbers may not seem high, it is worth noting that it is four times higher than the rate for the next most commonly ingested drug, a blood pressure medication. Every year, almost 800 children are hospitalized after ingesting buprenorphine. If a child consumes the drug it can cause sedation, as well as dangerously slowed breathing and vomiting.

Fortunately, the makers of Suboxone have changed the drugs design to a sublingual (under the tongue) film strip. The change from tablet to film strip may reduce the risks of accidental buprenorphine ingestion by children, says lead researcher Dr. Daniel Budnitz of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, such changes will only apply to brand Suboxone, generic forms of the drug are still in tablet form, reports the AP.

The study was published in Pediatrics.

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