From Opium to Buprenorphine


Ten million Americans are opiate dependent via physician’s prescriptions for chronic pain…

and pose an enormous risk group for drug diversion, addiction, and overdose. A widely publicized public health effort, aimed at the medical community as well as the population at large, has been launched to address these risks.

Buprenorphine is an opioid medication discovered fifty years ago with significantly less abuse liability and with FDA approval for the treatment of addiction as well as acute and chronic pain. The PPI views buprenorphine as a necessary, but by no means sufficient, component in the multi-modal management of addiction and pain.

Although public health consensus favors a major expansion of buprenorphine use for addiction, PPI believes a major effort is also needed to expand the use of this medication in the treatment of pain. In particular, PPI will be advocating for new research, education and translation regarding existing research, and evidence-based, timely, and clinical implementation of buprenorphine for the treatment of a wide variety of pain conditions.

A strong consensus exists, among knowledgeable experts, that buprenorphine has favorable analgesic properties, is significantly devoid of the respiratory depression and the euphoric abuse liability of other opiates, and would be a humane and effective way of reducing the addiction and death rate for many of the ten million medically dependent opiate consuming patients in the United States. This is particularly important, as this large cohort is contributing to illicitly obtained opiates with growing risks of fentanyl contamination, and to needle based infections with HIV and hepatitis C.