Is Bunavail effective?

Yes, Bunavail buccal film is an effective maintenance medication prescribed for the treatment of opiate addiction. More on its effectiveness and how it works here.

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Yes, Bunavail buccal film is an effective maintenance medication prescribed for the treatment of opiate addiction. It is not, however a fix-all medicine cures addiction by itself. For people to get the most out of their recovery, Bunavail should be used as a part of a complete addiction treatment which includes psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and peer group support.

In this article we will review the effectiveness of Bunavail for opiate and opioid addiction, compare it to Suboxone and go over the possible unwanted side effects. Continue reading here to learn more, and post your questions and comments in the section at the bottom of the page.

How does Bunavail work to affect the brain?

Bunavail buccal film is an opioid partial agonist-antagonist. Made from the two active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone, Bunavail can prevent withdrawal symptoms in someone who has stopped taking narcotics. It is also effective for relieving the need and desire for opioid drugs after cessation of opioid drug use.

Bunavail buccal film was designed using an advanced drug delivery technology called BioErodible MucoAdhesive or BEMA. This novel technology allows buprenorphine to be delivered to the organism in a convenient and efficient manner.

Is Bunavail effective for opiate addiction?

Yes, Bunavail is effective in the treatment of opiate addiction. Studies have shown that Bunavail is more effective than placebo and is equally as effective as moderate doses of methadone in opioid maintenance therapy. Bunavail is unlikely to be as effective as more optimal-dose methadone, and therefore may not be the treatment of choice for patients with higher levels of physical dependence. Plus, the addictive potential of Bunavail is relatively low. However, a doctor can decide the strength of medically assisted opioid treatment that is needed and if a patient can benefit the use of Bunavail.

Is Bunavail more effective than Suboxone?

Bunavail competes directly with Suboxone – the leading medication in this category on the market. However, Bunavail is the first muco-adhesive formulation that delivers buprenorphine very efficiently to the bloodstream. Additionally, Bunavail allows twice the amount of buprenorphine to be absorbed into the body compared to Suboxone. This means that Bunavail buccal film has double the bioavailability of Suboxone and you only need half the dose to reach the same plasma concentrations and wanted effects. In terms of dosage, Bunavail vs. Suboxone:

  • Bunavail 2.1mg/0.3mg = Suboxone 4mg/1mg (buprenorphine/naloxone)
  • Bunavail 4.2mg/0.7mg = Suboxone 8mg/2mg (buprenorphine/naloxone)
  • Bunavail 6.3mg/1mg = Suboxone 12mg/3mg (buprenorphine/naloxone)

This is simple to explain: Bunavail has a quicker absorption time than Suboxone, so you need a lower dose of medication, which is better because of the lower number of side-effects and lower potential for abuse.

Unwanted side effects of Bunavail

Just like with any other medication, side effects have occurred after Bunavail use. Patients should be informed about the possible unwanted effects before treatment is initiated and should be advised to seek medical help and report the side effects if and when they occur. In fact, any uncomfortable effects from Bunavail that are persistent and with a higher intensity should be reported and attended.

Here are the most common side effects reported in clinical trials. Note that this is not the full list of possible effects:

  • constipation
  • headaches
  • increased sweating
  • insomnia
  • lack of energy
  • mild nausea
  • redness or numbness inside your mouth
  • sleepiness
  • swelling of arms or legs
  • tongue pain
  • vomiting

Positive and negative effects of Bunavail

Although the decision to take Bunavail buccal film should be made along with your doctor and treatment provider, we thought you may also benefit a list of compared effects of Bunavail. So, we compiled this list in order to help you make up your mind.

Bunavail is effective for:

1. Patients who have doctor’s clearance after a careful medical assessment to use Bunavail as a part of their opiate maintenance treatment.
2. Patients who are motivated to work on their recovery and are dedicated to their treatment program. Bunavail shows best results when used along with counseling, psychotherapy, educational sessions, cognitive-behavioral treatment, adequate medical and family support and other types of treatment.
3. Patients who have finished the detox period and who are no longer experiencing acute withdrawal symptoms are safe to initiate Bunavail treatment.
4. Patients who have no liver or kidney damage or disease can benefit from the effects of Bunavail without putting their general health at risk.
5. Patients who have passed the initial Narcan test, which proves that all opioids have left the system, can benefit from Bunavail without experiencing any withdrawal symptoms.

Bunavail may not be not effective for:

1. People who have any type of breathing problem or lung disease. Bunavail can cause breathing problems, especially in elderly patients or in patients in a poor general health state.
2. Patients who have kidney or liver disease. Bunavail undergoes metabolism in the liver and is mainly excreted through the kidneys, and may worsen these conditions if taken in diagnosed patients.
3. Patients who are allergic to buprenorphine or naloxone should not use this medicine. Bunavail is also not recommended for those allergic to any of the other substances that this medication contains.
4. Pregnant women may be putting their unborn child at risk of harm if using Bunavail during pregnancy. Bunavail is categorized by the FDA as a pregnant category C drug: this means that women should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or planning to form a family if they are taking Bunavail.
5. Patients who have a newborn baby should not breastfeed while using Bunavail. The buprenorphine form Bunavail can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby.
6. Patients who are still using opioid drugs or alcohol, or have not yet went through the acute withdrawal phase should not be initiated Bunavail treatment.

Bunavail effectiveness questions

Do you still have questions about the efficacy of Bunavail? Please leave us your questions in the comments form below. We do our best to respond to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference sources: RxList: Bunavail
FDA: BUNAVAIL (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film
PBM: Buprenorphine / Naloxone Buccal Film (BUNAVAIL)
NC State Health Plan: Buprenorphine tablets and Buprenorphine/Naloxone tablets/films
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I have a serious problem with my Bunavail not wanting to adhere completely in 1 to two of the corners and immediately they begin to fold down and away from my cheek and it begins to fold into itself sometimes to the point it falls right off and if I’m not quick I cannot unfold it or get it back on my cheek and of course it wants to stick all over my fingers and just doesn’t want to stick and stay and I have to fight the corners down with my tongue to get them to stay. I always drink water to get my cheek damp enough and it just doesn’t help. Now I really would like to stay on this and continue to use it as it absorbs better when I can get it to stick properly it has reduced my migraines and got rid of my debilitating constipation. I just feel like it’s stronger and more effective than the sub tablets I was taking before which had all but crapped out on me completely. Its been 2 weeks and I dread every time I go to dose for fear of it folding all up falling off and becoming wasted. Im already short and can’t afford to waste anymore and I need a solution or answers as to why it’s doing this 95% of the time. I’ve scoured the internet trying to find an explanation or what I could do to prevent it from folding up and be more adherent into my cheeks. And yes I am putting the print side towards my inner cheek so I know that is not the problem and I always apply each film with clean and dry hands so that’s not it either. I really need to figure something before my next dose tomorrow and if I cannot I’ll be making a call to my doctor to see if he has any suggestions or possibly I could switch to zubzolv which is tablet formed but is different than Suboxone in that it has a higher absorbtion rate like Bunavail allowing you to use lower doses for same effect. If I have to fear dosing every day twice a day and the corners keep peeling off and folding up its really gonna be detrimental to my continued recovery and could possibly lead to relapse or getting back on horrible methadone. So please please anyone with any advice or has experienced this same thing let me know anything you think could be helpful cause I searched the web all over and couldn’t find anything useful. Tomorrow im gonna contact my pharmacy as ask them if they have any suggestions but the med is so new they had to order it just for me and had never heard of it so I doubt they will be much help. Will also be contacting my Doctor to see what he thinks should be done and if another switch has to happen he will have to work me in to see him but if we go with the zubzolv I’ll have to do another prior authorization with my insurance company cause it’s not covered so that could take 3-7 days. Hopefully someone knows something about this and knows what can be done to make that sucker stick and stay. Do you think I should contact the company who makes them?

  2. Hey, I’ve been on suboxone 3×a day 8/2mg. My Dr is wanting to switch me to bucca films & my question is how many of those would I be prescribed a day if I switched? I don’t wanna switch & lose a dose. Please any info would be appreciated.

  3. I thought I put the right side of Bunavail against my cheek but a couple minutes after it rolled up and was no longer able to stick to my cheek. Was the medicine wasted and why did that happen.

    1. Hi, Mike. It is important that your buccal mucosa is wet. You can use your saliva or water before applying Bunavail. Did you do this?

  4. I have in treatment for opioid dependency for a few years. When I first started treatment, Suboxone was administered by taking one 8mg/2mg sublingual tablet 3 times a day. I had no problems or side effects. After a couple years, my Doctor’s office switch to 8 mg/ 2mg Sublingual Films. I started noticing right away thatI had sloughing of skin on my buccal mucosa. I never had that problem when I was taking the sublingual tablet of Suboxone. now I’m getting blisters on the bottom of my tongue, the floor of my mouth becomes very Red, Raw, and irritated. It’s extremely painful! I did speak with my doctor about the slouting of the skin on my buccal mucosa ,when I was switched from the tablet to the sublingual film, but at that time it was not painful. It was almost like after brushing your teeth, sometimes skin will peel off on the buccal mucosa area. I don’t know if they changed something indie films, because I’ve just started having the blistering, extremely red,irritated tissue and, swollen sublingual glands that actually feel like the have knots in them. Now he is thinking about switching me to Bunavail, and I’m scared I’m going to have the same reaction to this medication as well due to the film administration. Are the side effects I’m having from the Sublingual Suboxone Film/Strips normal or are they uncommon? I am very concerned about this situation! I really need some advice here, I don’t know what to do at this point!

    1. Hi Gina. Your doctor should inform the FDA about all adverse or unusual side effects. And, since you are experiencing such effects, it’s clear that you need to be taken off the suboxone film. Maybe you won’t experience the same with Bunavail, and if you do, then your doctor will need to find another solution to help treat your opiate dependency without the side-effects.

  5. It says in the package insert of each Buprenorphine product that you should not operate a vehicle until you know how you are effected by the medicine. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist (lights up the mu receptors half way instead of all the way) and has a ceiling effect. The result of this is that opioid dependant people are not able to get high from it no matter how much they take. For this reason, if someone is opioid dependant there shouldnt be an issue with them operating a vehicle as a result of using Buprenorphine.

    1. Hi Blake. Yes, you speak the absolute truth. I do agree that there should be a period of time before people can start driving or operating machinery, but only once they get used to using the medication and functioning.

  6. I worked for Reckitt Benckiser for 9 years as a rep for Suboxone. I have gotten Physicians certified to treat Opioid Dependance, and taught them the pharmacokinetics concernining Buprenorphine for a long time before leaving to rep an injectable Drug in the Depression disease state. I also have used Buprenorphine for several years. I dont believe there are many people who know more than I do Concerning Buprenorphine. Not only is Bunavail comparable to Suboxone, in reality it is stronger. The package insert, as well as the Blood Level chart in their patient brochure basically tells you that while calling it equivalent. But, the FDA uses a range when setting MG strength, with Buprenorphine/Naloxone products it is 85 to 120 percent of the Suboxone tablet. So in reality, you can be 15% weaker to 20% stronger and be approved as “Bioequivalent.” In the Package Insert (The Bible in Parma world) Bunavail has a 2:1 conversion ratio, yet their “Bioequivalent” dose is 4.2 to Suboxone 8mg (2:1 ratio would be 4 to Suboxones 8). So, basically Bunavail is about .2 mg stronger than Suboxone Tablet. Also, according to the PI (Gospel in Pharma world) it delivers 33% less Naloxone compared to Suboxone Tablet. Since Naloxone is only there to prevent misuse (injection) and is designed to make you feel withdrawl, 33% less is a good thing! Also, i have been on Bunavail for a couple months now and i have noticed that the onset is quicker, which would make sense since there are more capilaries in the Buccal (inner cheek) then there are under the tongue (sublingual). It also tastes good (Suboxone is Awful) and you can talk, swallow, smoke, etc while taking). Ive noticed that the Polymer backing (contains no Buprenorphine) sometimes dissolves really slowly, but if you drink a little water30 min after applying the little residue remaining will dgo right away.

  7. My daughter has been on suboxone from November 2013 till now and has been put on strong nerve medicine and other strong medicine, and still has a license to drive a car, I think if a Dr. puts people on hard drugs that need to take there driving licence so they are not putting other people in danger.

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