Approved by the FDA in October 2016, ZUBSOLV combines naloxone and buprenorphine to make a prescription medication meant to treat opioid addictions. Makers of ZUBSOLV strongly recommend that ZUBSOLV be included in a comprehensive treatment program involving cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling and recovery support resources.
Pharmacologically designated as a partial opioid agonist, ZUBSOLV offers the benefits of naloxone (brand name Narcan), an opioid agonist the blocks the euphoric effects of heroin and painkillers and buprenorphine, a mostly synthetic opioid derivative of an opiate alkaloid called paramorphine (thebaine). While buprenorphine also prevents addicts from getting high off legal and illegal opioids, it additionally reduces severity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
ZUBSOLV vs Suboxone
ZUBSOLV and Suboxone are similar medications designed specifically to help opioid abusers avoid relapsing. Both contain naloxone and buprenorphine and both come in sublingual (dissolved under the tongue) form. Alternately, differences between ZUBSOLV and Suboxone include:
- ZUBSOLV is menthol/minty-tasting and Suboxone is orange-flavored. One study found that subjects preferred ZUBSOLV’s minty flavor over Suboxone citrus flavor.
- ZUBSOLV is a small tablet; Suboxone is a piece of film.
- Studies show ZUBSOLV presents enhanced bioavailability properties over Suboxone. When a medication is readily bioavailable, this means the body can efficiently absorb and utilize the ingredients in the medication to expedite its benefits. Due to ZUBSOLV’s better bioavailability.
- ZUBSOLV tablets contain less buprenorphine than Suboxone sublingual film strips.
To circumvent precipitating or facilitating withdrawal, ZUBSOLV’s manufacturer information instructs physicians to prescribe ZUBSOLV only when addicts are actually experiencing withdrawal symptoms. ZUBSOLV tablets should be placed under the tongue until they dissolve completely. When patients are prescribed two ZUBSOLV tablets, they should place each tablet in a different place under the tongue simultaneously. Additionally, tablets should not be crushed, swallowed or chewed.
Warnings and Side Effects
ZUBSOLV tablets may cause life-threatening side effects if they are crushed, mixed with water and injected intravenously. Since ZUBSOLV contains buprenorphine, an opioid derivative, the potential for abuse exists, especially when it is deliberately combined with benzodiazepines, alcohol or other CNS depressants.
Adverse events reported during ZUBSOLV clinical trials include nausea/vomiting; headache; gastrointestinal problems; insomnia; excessive sweating and swelling of the hands and feet.
A few cases of serotonin syndrome have been reported with concomitant use of antidepressants (SSRIs) and opioids. For this reason, people taking ZUBSOLV may not be able to take SSRIs during their addiction treatment.
Lengths of time patients spend participating in a recovery program that includes ZUBSOLV and behavioral therapy varies greatly among addicts. It should be considered an individual decision based heavily on the recommendation of an addiction specialist, counselor and/or physician.
When deciding to take ZUBSOLV, you should be aware that ZUBSOLV contains an opioid potentially conducive to dependence. In addition, you should never stop taking this medication without discussing it with your prescribing doctor. Finally, ZUBSOLV should not be used on an “as needed” or occasional basis since its efficacy partially comes from the resolve of the addict to defeat their opioid addiction and avoid relapsing.