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Suboxone vs buprenorphine: Time for a name change?

Posted Sep 10 2009 10:59pm 2 Comments

For the past 6 years, Reckitt-Benckiser has sold buprenorphine under the brand names ‘Suboxone’ and ‘Subutex’. Buprenorphine has been sold under other names in the past, notably ‘Temgesic’, which was buprenorphine intended for intravenous use by medical professionals treating pain. Many people, myself included, have been anxiously awaiting a less expensive formulation of buprenorphine– for example a generic product. We could also use a number of new formulations of the drug called ‘Suboxone’; it is very difficult to taper in it’s present form, for example, and a large pill with lower concentrations would be a tremendous help. Even better would be a ‘taper pack’; many medications make taper packs for use in STARTING the medication (e.g. Lamictal), and I suppose they see a pack used to STOP a medication to be counter-productive from a sales standpoint. I would argue, though, that having an easy exit strategy in place would increase the number of addicts whoe would accept treatment with buprenorphine. And if the sales angle isn’t persuasive enough, there is always the fact that a taper pack WOULD MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR PEOPLE! If that is not important to the manufacturer, they could always comfort themselves by cranking up the price of a taper pack to get that one last shot at the patient’s wallet.

I have used the word ‘Suboxone’ in my blog and forum (and also in educational youtube videos) because that is the word that people search for. But I have to think that SOME generic company will pick up buprenorphine as it goes off patent– which I think happens next month. And when that happens, I am sure the R-B people would love to hang on to the ‘brand loyalty’ by keeping people using the word ‘Suboxone’. That is what the makers of Tylenol managed to do– people ask for Tylenol, not for ‘acetominophen’. People ask for Motrin, not ‘ibuprofen’. And people ask for ‘Xanax’, even though the generic ‘alprazolam’ is much less expensive. I have no allegiance to RB or ‘Suboxone.’ If anything I am annoyed with the company; unlike other pharmaceutical companies they are very difficult to reach at the corporate level, and when I have attempted to contact someone within the science division or someone in a position to discuss the issues I describe above, I am told that so and so will call– but they never do. Sniff sniff… On the other hand, I have no problem speaking to various levels of other pharmaceutical companies. I have presumed the reason was because Reckitt-Benckiser is a British cleaning products company and they don’t really have it together. But to a large extent I am tired of carrying water for them, and watching the price go up on Suboxone.

In medicine in general, doctors are encouraged to refer to medications by their generic names or by their chemical names. I strongly recommend we learn to do that with buprenorphine. I am probably shooting myself in the foot a bit since my blog responds very well to the search term ‘Suboxone’, but if we don’t make the change, we will all be advertising a product that will eventually have a less-expensive equivalent product. I recommend the term ‘bupe;’ it is easy enough to say, even easier than Suboxone. In fact, if every person talking about Suboxone changes to the word ‘bupe’, that will reduce use of syllables by 66% for that word– as Obama said last night, imagine the cost savings (in the form of time savings– but time is money!) if we could reduce the number of syllables for ALL words! Pretty soon the average male phone call would take 10 seconds instead of 30 seconds, and the average female phone call would drop to less than 30 minutes!

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Comments (2)
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We could call subutex "Bupe" and suboxone BupeX to distinguish between them.

I've often wondered why they don't provide a taper would be alot easier than eating tiny crumbs everyday. 

I contacted them 2/09/08 and asked them if they would consider creating a strip that you could put under the tongue [similar to a listerine strip] instead of those nasty pills. On 3/20/08 they replied "Thank you for taking the time to share your proposal with Reckitt Benckiser plc. The RB-Idealink team has recorded your comments. We have reviewed your idea with interest, which is very similar to concepts we have reviewed in the past, and already have under evaluation. We therefore will not be proceeding with your suggestion at this time."

What about a patch, like a nicotine patch? I guess I'm pulling straws here...its just the taste of BupeX is just downright nasty..... 


Great piece. im a first timer here.Have been  successfully on SBOX for  nearly 5 years in oz.The fact that SBOX dosent come in .4mg tabs like SUBUTEX is suss to say the least.Its like the makers dont wont pple to successfully reduce of it.They want to keep pple on it.Could they be that cruel? Maybe im a cynic.Well look at cigarette makers!...Yes big business can be heartless....


Myself and friends have emailed the maker to request .4mg or .5mg  tabs of SBOX .I have hassled my doct to make a complaint,but he  dosnt give a toss. Also its  strange how SUBUTEX comes in .4mg  not .5mg tabs.They have to make it difficult dont they?    8mg/2mg/.5mg/.25mg-would be the perfect tablet range. Even just  adding a .5mg  tab would be much easier to calculate/administer reduction.

In oz  SUBUTEX is very restricted. You have to go to chemist every day due to idiots diverting/ injecting it.Luckily my chemist is sympathetic-gives me acouple of takeaways p.w.

Ive reduced of SBOX  8mg and have just changed to SUBTEX(im now on 2mg<)as i dont want to have to be cutting up 2mg . SBOX tabs with a razor blade like a junkie for months.

In oz the 2mg SBOX tabs are white hexagonal shape & really soft & crumbly-a nightmare to cut& dose& store. Reduction should be simple and efficient as you stated.Thanks for your concern and passion Suboxdoc!

n.b xanax comes in dense .25mg tabs which can be easily/cleanly broken in half.-why not the subox??

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