Wednesday September 17th 2014

Buprenorphine half life

The duration of action of a drug is known as its half life. Relative to other opioids, the half life of buprenorphine (24-60 hours) is moderately high. Why is this? And how can it benefit buprenorphine users? We review here.

Types of half life

When pharmacists talk about the half life of a drug, certain principles describe the actions of a drug on the body. One is distribution half life. The other is elimination half life.

Distribution half life of buprenorphine = 2-5 hours
Elimination half life of buprenorphine = 24-60 hours

1. Distribution half life – The absorption of buprenorphine is followed by a rapid distribution phase. The distribution half life is amount of time it takes for half of buprenorphine to be distributed throughout the body. Buprenorphine is widely distributed, and takes has a distribution half life of 2-5 hours. But this should not be confused with the time it takes for buprenorphine to leave the body, which is much longer.

2. Elimination half life – The elimination half life of any drug, medication or substance is the period of time necessary for half the drug to be eliminated or disintegrated by natural processes in the body. We usually talk about this type of half life, when describing the action of a drug. The average elimination half life for buprenorphine from plasma is around 32-35 hours.

Half life of buprenorphine

Buprenorphine has a long half life because it is highly bound to plasma proteins. In addition, Buprenorphine has poor oral bioavailability and moderate sublingual bioavailability. This means that buprenorphine is better absorbed by the body when dissolved under the tongue than when swallowed orally.

Benefits of a long half life

The relatively long half life of buprenorphine has been designed to help treat and manage opiate withdrawal symptoms, by maintaining opioid partial agonist levels in the brain. But the main advantage of the long half life of buprenorphine is that this makes once daily dosing for opiate addiction treatment possible. With the ease of administration, people can start to live more normal lives. Sometimes the long half life of buprenorphine makes it possible to delay doses or to switch to alternate day dosing. And with an average half-life of approximately 35 hours, 48 hour and 72 hour dosing is theoretically possible.

Buprenorphine questions

Do you have other questions about buprenorphine? Please leave them here. We will be happy to help you.

Reference sources: Daily Med drug info on buprenorphine
The effectiveness of community maintenance with methadone or buprenorphine for treating opiate dependence
SAMHSA TAP 30 on buprenorphine

Leave a Reply

11 Responses to “Buprenorphine half life
no name
6:58 pm April 16th, 2012

hi I was wondering how long it is before i can use heroin after taking subutex. I have been taking 16mg a day for 4 months now and not had no subuter since sunday morning and it is now monday night abd i feel fine. how long is it before it is totally out my system thank you

4:39 am April 17th, 2012

Hello no name. Why have you decided to stop taking Subutex? What’s the trigger or decision process that compels you to use heroin again?

Sara
5:26 am September 17th, 2012

I took less than a quarter of an 8mg film today around 4:00. I have a urinalysis coming up later this week & was wondering will it be out of my system in time?

Josh
3:27 pm November 23rd, 2012

I’ve been taking Methadone for about 5 years once a day. I’ve been trying desperately to get off completely, however it seem the half life of this drug is making it very difficult and taking forever. I had taken Bup in the past for oxy withdrawl when I told my pain doc I was done with Rx for pain. The pain returned with a vengance and they recommended methadone (which is even worse in my opinion).
I’m told I have to be 48 hours into complete withdrawl from the mehtadone before I take the Bup and I can manage that. I would be making the switch from the Methadone to the Bup for the express purpose of getting off of both drugs and making the withdrawl process faster and easier than it has been. My question is…Considering that the half life of Bup is half that of Methadone, will my effort to titrate down to nothing go faster and easier on the Bupinorphine. I’m getting desperate and with work and my responsibilities I can’t spend 4-6 weeks in agonizing withdrawl from going cold turkey. I have to be able to function.
Thank you for this site and especially the expert opinion.

John
6:12 pm January 13th, 2013

@Sara No it won’t be out of your system but it is not something you would be getting tested for, most likely. It does not come with most all “normal” drug test kits and his actually either too difficult to test for or exspensive. Hence you wont BE tested for it. GL, know its late but for anyone else wondering. Hope it helps.

Chris
2:09 am January 27th, 2013

Question- I am on a 20mcg Buprenorphine patch 7 day. It seems by day 5 the med has begun losing its effectiveness and by day 6 I’m in a lot of pain. I’m pretty sure it is no longer in my system by day 7. is there any record of the med being absorbed at different rates by different people.

12:31 pm February 15th, 2013

Hi Chris. The minimum effective concentration (MEC) for cases of moderate to severe pain is in the region of 100 pg/ml. Perhaps your levels are falling below these? From what I’ve read, patches are good for about 96 hours…check out this study for more information. You can also do a search for: site:.gov buprenorphine patch in your internet browser.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1661652/

FRANKIE
3:53 am October 1st, 2013

Does an 8mg dose of Subutex have a longer half life than 2mg? Why do they use the half life scale? Why can’t they just say 4mg of Subutex lasts for 72 hours? Does injecting Subutex reduce the life of the drug? Thanks for you help.

Jan Lopez
6:31 pm November 11th, 2013

Helpful Info. I began suboxone while detoxing from methadone….??? How effective is syboxone for pain mgmt??? How horrible is suboxone withdrawal?? Long term effects of suboxone ascrelated to pain control????

boo
7:39 pm June 11th, 2014

Does a 6mg dose of subutex partially block opiates+if so how long for?Does 8mg fully block any heroin use+if so would that last a full 24hours or do you have to take the blocking dose regularly(like everyday)for it to be affective as a blocker?

The Chef
12:41 pm September 2nd, 2014

I’ve noticed that in my case, the elimination half-life of Suboxone is only around 20 hours at absolute most. I’m prescribed Tegretol (carbamazepine) as part of my medication cocktail and I’m a relatively heavy smoker. These two factors of course mean hepatic enzyme induction, which could easily be to blame for the Suboxone being eliminated at a more rapid rate than most would experience. I find that I start to feel noticeable withdrawal symptoms at around the 18 hour mark after my dose. I’m on 18 mg/d, as a result of the fact that prior to this dose, I would often start to feel withdrawals at around the 12 hour mark. However, I find on days where I smoke considerably less, or not at all, the onset of withdrawals is delayed rather noticeably.

One last thing, I’ve had some mishaps with my Suboxone, despite receiving full carries-14 days- based on Ontario’s prescribing regulations and 4 years of demonstrated sobriety and abstinence. These mishaps are often gagging/puking while the tablets are under my tongue, causing me to puke the tablets out. This is in part due to the fact that one of my main withdrawal symptoms is fairly profound gagging, which the unbearable taste of Suboxone aggravates like all get out. One other mishap that I can recall offhand was when my Zippo lighter fell off of my medication lockbox and onto my last day’s Suboxone tablets, utterly obliterating them. I was left with at most 2 mg. The day was a nightmare. While I’ve had worse withdrawal symptoms when I was using, it was still pure hell. I’ve been told many times by many medical professionals that missing a day’s dose shouldn’t be a problem, but I beg to differ. I find that I’m extremely sensitive to variations in dosage and that missing a day’s dose or taking a lower dose always causes problems, even if a full dose was taken the day before.

My point is that while Suboxone is touted as having quite a long elimination half-life, I find that many (if not most) practitioners fail to take into consideration factors such as enzyme inducing medications and/or smoking when setting a dose and dosing regimen. These issues make a world of difference when it comes to avoiding withdrawals when on a Suboxone regimen.

Leave a Reply