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Zubsolv was approved by the FDA in October 2016. This drug combines naloxone and buprenorphine to make a prescription medication meant to treat opioid addictions. Makers of it strongly recommend that it be included in a comprehensive treatment program involving cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling and recovery support resources.
Pharmacologically designated as a partial opioid agonist, it 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.
To circumvent precipitating or facilitating withdrawal, its manufacturer information instructs physicians to prescribe it only when addicts are actually experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Tablets should be placed under the tongue until they dissolve completely. When patients are prescribed two tablets, they should place each tablet in a different place under the tongue simultaneously. Additionally, tablets should not be crushed, swallowed or chewed.
Tablets may cause life-threatening side effects if they are crushed, mixed with water and injected intravenously. Since they contain 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 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 this drug may not be able to take SSRIs during their addiction treatment.
This drug 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 it and Suboxone include:
- It is menthol/minty-tasting and Suboxone is orange-flavored.
- One study found that subjects preferred the minty flavor over Suboxone citrus flavor.
- It is a small tablet; Suboxone is a piece of film.
- Studies show it 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 it’s better bioavailability.
- Tablets contain less buprenorphine than Suboxone sublingual film strips.
Lengths of time patients spend participating in a recovery program that includes this drug 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 this drug, you should be aware this drug contains an opioid potentially conducive to dependence. In addition, you should never stop taking this medication without discussing it with your prescribing doctor. This drug 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.