Included as part of the "PRECAUTIONS" Section
Addiction, Abuse, And Misuse
BELBUCA contains buprenorphine, a Schedule III controlled substance. As an opioid, BELBUCA exposes
users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse [see Drug Abuse And Dependence].
Although the risk of addiction in any individual is unknown, it can occur in patients appropriately prescribed
BELBUCA. Addiction can occur at recommended dosages and if the drug is misused or abused.
Assess each patient’s risk for opioid addiction, abuse, or misuse prior to prescribing BELBUCA and monitor all
patients receiving BELBUCA for the development of these behaviors and conditions. Risks are increased in
patients with a personal or family history of substance abuse (including drug or alcohol abuse or addiction) or
mental illness (e.g., major depression). The potential for these risks should not, however, prevent the proper
management of pain in any given patient. Patients at increased risk may be prescribed opioids such as
BELBUCA, but use in such patients necessitates intensive counseling about the risks and proper use of
BELBUCA, along with intensive monitoring for signs of addiction, abuse, or misuse.
Abuse or misuse of BELBUCA by swallowing may cause choking, overdose, and death [see OVERDOSE].
Opioids are sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders and are subject to criminal diversion.
Consider these risks when prescribing or dispensing BELBUCA. Strategies to reduce the risk include
prescribing the drug in the smallest appropriate quantity and advising the patient on the proper disposal of
unused drug [see PATIENT INFORMATION]. Contact local state professional licensing board or state
controlled substances authority for information on how to prevent and detect abuse or diversion of this product.
Opioid Analgesic Risk Evaluation And Mitigation Strategy (REMS)
To ensure that the benefits of opioid analgesics outweigh the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse, the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) has required a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for these products.
Under the requirements of the REMS, drug companies with approved opioid analgesic products must make
REMS-compliant education programs available to healthcare providers. Healthcare providers are strongly
encouraged to do all of the following:
- Complete a REMS-compliant education program offered by an accredited provider of continuing
education (CE) or another education program that includes all the elements of the FDA Education
Blueprint for Health Care Providers Involved in the Management or Support of Patients with Pain.
- Discuss the safe use, serious risks, and proper storage and disposal of opioid analgesics with patients
and/or their caregivers every time these medicines are prescribed. The Patient Counseling Guide (PCG)
can be obtained at this link: www.fda.gov/OpioidAnalgesicREMSPCG.
- Emphasize to patients and their caregivers the importance of reading the Medication Guide that they will
receive from their pharmacist every time an opioid analgesic is dispensed to them.
- Consider using other tools to improve patient, household, and community safety, such as patientprescriber
agreements that reinforce patient-prescriber responsibilities.
To obtain further information on the opioid analgesic REMS and for a list of accredited REMS CME/CE, call
1-800-503-0784, or log on to www.opioidanalgesicrems.com. The FDA Blueprint can be found at
Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression
Serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression has been reported with the use of opioids, even when
used as recommended. Respiratory depression, if not immediately recognized and treated, may lead to
respiratory arrest and death. Management of respiratory depression may include close observation, supportive
measures, and use of opioid antagonists, depending on the patient’s clinical status [see OVERDOSE].
Carbon dioxide (CO2) retention from opioid-induced respiratory depression can exacerbate the sedating effects
While serious, life-threatening or fatal respiratory depression can occur at any time during the use of
BELBUCA, the risk is greatest during initiation of therapy or following a dosage increase. Monitor patients
closely for respiratory depression when initiating therapy with BELBUCA and following dosage increases.
To reduce the risk of respiratory depression, proper dosing and titration of BELBUCA are essential [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. Overestimating the dose of BELBUCA when converting patients from another opioid
product may result in fatal overdose with the first dose.
Accidental exposure to BELBUCA, especially in children, can result in respiratory depression and death due to
an overdose of buprenorphine.
Opioids can cause sleep-related breathing disorders including central sleep apnea (CSA) and sleep-related
hypoxemia. Opioid use increases the risk of CSA in a dose-dependent fashion. In patients who present with
CSA, consider decreasing the opioid dosage using best practices for opioid taper [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome
Prolonged use of BELBUCA during pregnancy can result in withdrawal in the neonate. Neonatal opioid
withdrawal syndrome, unlike opioid withdrawal syndrome in adults, may be life-threatening if not recognized
and treated, and requires management according to protocols developed by neonatology experts. Observe
newborns for signs of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and manage accordingly. Advise pregnant women
using opioids for a prolonged period of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that
appropriate treatment will be available [see Use In Specific Populations, PATIENT INFORMATION].
Risks Due To Interactions With Benzodiazepines Or Other Central Nervous System Depressants
Profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death may result from the concomitant use of BELBUCA
with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants (e.g., non-benzodiazepine sedatives/hypnotics, anxiolytics,
tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, general anesthetics, antipsychotics, other opioids, alcohol). Because of these
risks, reserve concomitant prescribing of these drugs for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options
Observational studies have demonstrated that concomitant use of opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines
increases the risk of drug-related mortality compared to use of opioid analgesics alone. Because of similar
pharmacological properties, it is reasonable to expect similar risk with the concomitant use of other CNS
depressant drugs with opioid analgesics [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
If the decision is made to prescribe a benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant concomitantly with an opioid
analgesic, prescribe the lowest effective dosages and minimum durations of concomitant use. In patients already
receiving an opioid analgesic, prescribe a lower initial dose of the benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant than
indicated in the absence of an opioid, and titrate based on clinical response. If an opioid analgesic is initiated in
a patient already taking a benzodiazepine or other CNS depressant, prescribe a lower initial dose of the opioid
analgesic, and titrate based on clinical response. Follow patients closely for signs and symptoms of respiratory
depression and sedation.
Advise both patients and caregivers about the risks of respiratory depression and sedation when BELBUCA is
used with benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants (including alcohol and illicit drugs). Advise patients not to
drive or operate heavy machinery until the effects of concomitant use of the benzodiazepine or other CNS
depressant have been determined. Screen patients for risk of substance use disorders, including opioid abuse
and misuse, and warn them of the risk for overdose and death associated with the use of additional CNS
depressants including alcohol and illicit drugs [see DRUG INTERACTIONS, PATIENT INFORMATION].
Risk Of Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression In Patients With Chronic Pulmonary Disease Or In Elderly, Cachectic, Or Debilitated Patients
The use of BELBUCA in patients with acute or severe bronchial asthma in an unmonitored setting or in the
absence of resuscitative equipment is contraindicated.
Patients With Chronic Pulmonary Disease
BELBUCA-treated patients with significant chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease or cor pulmonale, and those with substantially decreased respiratory reserve, hypoxia,
hypercapnia, or pre-existing respiratory depression are at increased risk of decreased respiratory drive,
including apnea, even at recommended dosages of BELBUCA [see Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression].
Elderly, Cachectic, Or Debilitated Patients
Life-threatening respiratory depression is more likely to occur in
elderly, cachectic, or debilitated patients as they may have altered pharmacokinetics or altered clearance
compared to younger, healthier patients.
Monitor such patients closely, particularly when initiating and titrating BELBUCA and when BELBUCA is
given concomitantly with other drugs that depress respiration [see Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression, Risks Due To Interactions With Benzodiazepines Or Other Central Nervous System Depressants].
Alternatively, consider the use of non-opioid analgesics in these patients.
Cases of adrenal insufficiency have been reported with opioid use, more often following greater than one month
of use. Presentation of adrenal insufficiency may include non-specific symptoms and signs including nausea,
vomiting, anorexia, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. If adrenal insufficiency is suspected,
confirm the diagnosis with diagnostic testing as soon as possible. If adrenal insufficiency is diagnosed, treat
with physiologic replacement doses of corticosteroids. Wean the patient off of the opioid to allow adrenal
function to recover and continue corticosteroid treatment until adrenal function recovers. Other opioids may be
tried as some cases reported use of a different opioid without recurrence of adrenal insufficiency. The
information available does not identify any particular opioids as being more likely to be associated with adrenal
BELBUCA has been observed to prolong the QTc interval in some subjects participating in clinical trials.
Consider these observations in clinical decisions when prescribing BELBUCA to patients with hypokalemia,
hypomagnesemia, or clinically unstable cardiac disease, including unstable atrial fibrillation, symptomatic
bradycardia, unstable congestive heart failure, or active myocardial ischemia. Periodic electrocardiographic
(ECG) monitoring is recommended in these patients. Avoid the use of BELBUCA in patients with a history of
Long QT Syndrome or an immediate family member with this condition or those taking Class IA antiarrhythmic
medications (e.g., quinidine, procainamide, disopyramide) or Class III antiarrhythmic medications (e.g., sotalol,
amiodarone, dofetilide), or other medications that prolong the QT interval [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, ADVERSE REACTIONS, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
BELBUCA may cause severe hypotension including orthostatic hypotension and syncope in ambulatory
patients. There is an increased risk in patients whose ability to maintain blood pressure has already been
compromised by a reduced blood volume or concurrent administration of certain CNS depressant drugs (e.g.,
phenothiazines or general anesthetics) [see DRUG INTERACTIONS]. Monitor these patients for signs of
hypotension after initiating or titrating the dosage of BELBUCA. In patients with circulatory shock, BELBUCA
may cause vasodilation that can further reduce cardiac output and blood pressure. Avoid the use of BELBUCA
in patients with circulatory shock.
Risks Of Use In Patients With Increased Intracranail Pressure, Brain Tumors, Head Injury, Or Impaired Consciousness
In patients who may be susceptible to the intracranial effects of CO2 retention (e.g., those with evidence of
increased intracranial pressure or brain tumors), BELBUCA may reduce respiratory drive, and the resultant CO2
retention can further increase intracranial pressure. Monitor such patients for signs of sedation and respiratory
depression, particularly when initiating therapy with BELBUCA.
Opioids may also obscure the clinical course in a patient with a head injury. Avoid the use of BELBUCA in
patients with impaired consciousness or coma.
Cases of cytolytic hepatitis and hepatitis with jaundice have been observed in individuals receiving sublingual
formulations of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid dependence, both in clinical trials and in postmarketing
adverse events reports. The spectrum of abnormalities ranges from transient asymptomatic elevations
in hepatic transaminases to case reports of hepatic failure, hepatic necrosis, hepatorenal syndrome, and hepatic
encephalopathy. In many cases, the presence of pre-existing liver enzyme abnormalities, infection with hepatitis
B or hepatitis C virus, concomitant usage of other potentially hepatotoxic drugs, and ongoing injection drug
abuse may have played a causative or contributory role. For patients at increased risk of hepatotoxicity (e.g.,
patients with a history of excessive alcohol intake, intravenous drug abuse or liver disease), obtain baseline liver
enzyme levels and monitor periodically during treatment with BELBUCA.
Risk Of Overdose In Patients With Moderate To Severe Hepatic Impairment
In a pharmacokinetic study in subjects dosed with buprenorphine sublingual tablets, buprenorphine plasma
levels were found to be higher and the half-life was found to be longer in subjects with moderate and severe
hepatic impairment, but not in subjects with mild hepatic impairment. For patients with severe hepatic
impairment, a dose adjustment is recommended, and patients with moderate or severe hepatic impairment
should be monitored for signs and symptoms of toxicity or overdose caused by increased levels of
buprenorphine [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, Use In Specific Populations].
Cases of acute and chronic hypersensitivity to buprenorphine have been reported both in clinical trials and in
post-marketing experience. The most common signs and symptoms include rashes, hives, and pruritus. Cases of
bronchospasm, angioneurotic edema, and anaphylactic shock have been reported. BELBUCA is contraindicated
in patients with a history of hypersensitivity to buprenorphine.
Do not abruptly discontinue BELBUCA in a patient physically dependent on opioids. When discontinuing
BELBUCA in a physically dependent patient, gradually taper the dosage. Rapid tapering of buprenorphine in a
patient physically dependent on opioids may lead to a withdrawal syndrome and return of pain [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, Drug Abuse And Dependence].
Additionally, the use of BELBUCA, a partial agonist opioid analgesic, in patients who are receiving a full
opioid agonist analgesic may reduce the analgesic effect and/or precipitate withdrawal symptoms. Avoid
concomitant use of BELBUCA with a full opioid agonist analgesic.
Risk Of Use In Patients With Gastrointestinal Conditions
BELBUCA is contraindicated in patients with known or suspected gastrointestinal obstruction, including
BELBUCA may cause spasm of the sphincter of Oddi. Opioids may cause increases in the serum amylase.
Monitor patients with biliary tract disease, including acute pancreatitis, for worsening symptoms.
Increased Risk Of Seizures In Patients With Seizure Disorders
The buprenorphine in BELBUCA may increase the frequency of seizures in patients with seizure disorders, and
may increase the risk of seizures occurring in other clinical settings associated with seizures. Monitor patients
with a history of seizure disorders for worsened seizure control during BELBUCA therapy.
Risks Of Use In Cancer Patients With Oral Mucositis
Cancer patients with oral mucositis may absorb buprenorphine more rapidly than intended and are likely to
experience higher plasma levels of the opioid. For patients with known or suspected mucositis, a dose reduction
is recommended. Monitor these patients carefully for signs and symptoms of toxicity or overdose caused by
increased levels of buprenorphine [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
Risks Of Driving And Operating Machinery
BELBUCA may impair the mental and physical abilities needed to perform potentially hazardous activities such
as driving a car or operating machinery. Warn patients not to drive or operate dangerous machinery unless they
are tolerant to side effects of BELBUCA and know how they will react to the medication.
Patient Counseling Information
Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide).
Storage And Disposal
Because of the risks associated with accidental ingestion, misuse, and abuse, advise patients to store BELBUCA
securely, out of sight and reach of children, and in a location not accessible by others, including visitors to the
home [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Drug Abuse And Dependence]. Inform patients that
leaving BELBUCA unsecured can pose a deadly risk to others in the home.
Advise patients and caregivers that when medicines are no longer needed, they should be disposed of promptly.
Expired, unwanted, or unused BELBUCA should be disposed of by removing the BELBUCA film from the foil
packaging and flushing the unused medication down the toilet (if a drug take-back option is not readily
available). Inform patients that they can visit www.fda.gov/drugdisposal for a complete list of medicines
recommended for disposal by flushing, as well as additional information on disposal of unused medicines.
Addiction, Abuse, And Misuse
Inform patients that the use of BELBUCA, even when taken as recommended, can result in addiction, abuse,
and misuse, which could lead to overdose and death [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Instruct patients not
to share BELBUCA with others and to take steps to protect BELBUCA from theft or misuse.
Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression
Inform patients of the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression, including information that the risk is
greatest when starting BELBUCA or when the dosage is increased, and that it can occur even at recommended
doses [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Advise patients how to recognize respiratory depression and to
seek medical attention if breathing difficulties develop.
Inform patients that accidental exposure, especially in children, may result in respiratory depression or death
[see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Interactions With Benzodiazepines And Other CNS Depressants
Inform patients and caregivers that potentially fatal additive effects may occur if BELBUCA is used with
benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, including alcohol, and not to use these concomitantly unless
supervised by a healthcare provider [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Inform patients that BELBUCA could cause a rare but potentially life-threatening condition resulting from
concomitant administration of serotonergic drugs. Warn patients of the symptoms of serotonin syndrome and to
seek medical attention right away if symptoms develop. Instruct patients to inform their physicians if they are
taking, or plan to take, serotonergic medications [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Inform patients that BELBUCA could cause adrenal insufficiency, a potentially life-threatening condition.
Adrenal insufficiency may present with non-specific symptoms and signs such as nausea, vomiting, anorexia,
fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Advise patients to seek medical attention if they
experience a constellation of these symptoms [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Interaction With Benzodiazepines
Warn patients that it is extremely dangerous to self-administer benzodiazepines while taking BELBUCA, and
warn patients to use benzodiazepines concurrently with BELBUCA only as directed by their physician [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Important Administration Instructions
Instruct patients how to properly use BELBUCA, including the following:
- To carefully follow instructions for the application of BELBUCA and to avoid eating or drinking until it
- To apply BELBUCA once daily, or every twelve (12) hours at the same time or times each day.
- To avoid applying BELBUCA to areas of the mouth with any open sores or lesions.
- To not use BELBUCA if the pouch seal is broken or the buccal film is cut, damaged, or changed in any
Important Discontinuation Instructions
In order to avoid developing withdrawal symptoms, instruct patients not to discontinue BELBUCA without first
discussing a tapering plan with the prescriber [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Inform patients that BELBUCA may cause orthostatic hypotension and syncope. Instruct patients how to
recognize symptoms of low blood pressure and how to reduce the risk of serious consequences should
hypotension occur (e.g., sit or lie down, carefully rise from a sitting or lying position) [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Inform patients that anaphylaxis has been reported with ingredients contained in BELBUCA. Advise patients
how to recognize such a reaction and when to seek medical attention [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome
Inform female patients of reproductive potential that prolonged use of BELBUCA during pregnancy can
result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated
[see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Use In Specific Populations].
Advise female patients that BELBUCA can cause fetal harm and to inform their healthcare provider of a
known or suspected pregnancy [see Use In Specific Populations].
Advise patients that breastfeeding is not recommended during treatment with BELBUCA [see Use In Specific Populations].
Advise patients of the potential for severe constipation, including management instructions and when to seek
medical attention [see ADVERSE REACTIONS, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
Driving Or Operating Heavy Machinery
Inform patients that BELBUCA may impair the ability to perform potentially hazardous activities such as
driving a car or operating heavy machinery. Advise patients not to perform such tasks until they know how they
will react to the medication [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Healthcare professionals can telephone BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. at 1-800-469-0261
or access www.BELBUCA.com for information on this product.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Carcinogenicity studies of buprenorphine were conducted in Sprague-Dawley rats and CD-1 mice.
Buprenorphine was administered in the diet to rats at doses of 0.6, 5.5, and 56 mg/kg/day for 27 months
(estimated exposure was approximately 3, 29, and 299 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD)
of buccal BELBUCA of 1.8 mg on a mg/m2 basis, respectively). Statistically significant dose-related increases
in testicular interstitial (Leydig’s) cell tumors occurred. In an 86-week study in CD-1 mice, buprenorphine was
not carcinogenic at dietary doses up to 100 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was approximately 267 times the
Buprenorphine was studied in a series of tests utilizing gene, chromosome, and DNA interactions in both
prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems. Results were negative in yeast (S. cerevisiae) for recombinant, gene
convertant, or forward mutations; negative in Bacillus subtilis “rec” assay, negative for clastogenicity in CHO
cells, Chinese hamster bone marrow and spermatogonia cells, and negative in the mouse lymphoma L5178Y
Results were equivocal in the Ames test: negative in studies in two laboratories, but positive for frame shift
mutation at a high dose (5 mg/plate) in a third study. Results were positive in the Green-Tweets (E. coli)
survival test, positive in a DNA synthesis inhibition (DSI) test with testicular tissue from mice, for both in vivo and in vitro incorporation of [3H]thymidine, and positive in an unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) test using
testicular cells from mice.
Impairment Of Fertility
Reproduction studies of buprenorphine in rats demonstrated no evidence of impaired fertility at daily oral doses
up to 80 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure approximately 427 times the MRHD) or up to 5 mg/kg/day IM or SC
(estimated exposure was approximately 27 times the MRHD).
Use In Specific Populations
Prolonged use of opioid analgesics during pregnancy may cause neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of BELBUCA or
buprenorphine in pregnant women. Limited published data on use of buprenorphine, the active ingredient in
BELBUCA, in pregnancy, have not shown an increased risk of major malformations. Reproductive and
developmental studies in rats and rabbits identified adverse events at approximately 2 times the maximum
recommended human dose (MRHD) of 1.8 mg/day of BELBUCA. Embryofetal death was observed in both rats
and rabbits administered buprenorphine during the period of organogenesis at doses approximately 54 and 2.2
times, respectively, the MRHD of 1.8 mg/day of buprenorphine. Pre-and postnatal development studies in rats
demonstrated increased neonatal deaths at 2.7 times and above and dystocia at approximately 27 times the
MRHD of 1.8 mg/day of buprenorphine. No clear teratogenic effects were seen when buprenorphine was
administered during organogenesis with a range of doses 5 times or greater than the MRHD of 1.8 mg/day of
buprenorphine. However, increases in skeletal abnormalities were noted in rats and rabbits administered
buprenorphine daily during organogenesis at doses approximately 5.4 and 10.8 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg/day
of buprenorphine, respectively. In a few studies, some events such as acephalus and omphalocele were also
observed but these findings were not clearly treatment-related [see Data].
The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population is unknown.
Adverse outcomes in pregnancy can occur regardless of the health of the mother or the use of medications. In
the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically
recognized pregnancies is 2-4% and 15-20%, respectively.
Fetal/Neonatal Adverse Reactions
Prolonged use of opioid analgesics during pregnancy for medical or nonmedical purposes can result in
physical dependence in the neonate and neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome shortly after birth. Neonatal
opioid withdrawal syndrome presents as irritability, hyperactivity and abnormal sleep pattern, high pitched
cry, tremor, vomiting, diarrhea, and failure to gain weight. The onset, duration, and severity of neonatal
opioid withdrawal syndrome vary based on the specific opioid used, duration of use, timing and amount of
last maternal use, and rate of elimination of the drug by the newborn. Observe newborns for symptoms of
neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and manage accordingly [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Labor or Delivery
Opioids cross the placenta and may produce respiratory depression and psycho-physiologic effects in
neonates. An opioid antagonist such as naloxone must be available for reversal of opioid-induced
respiratory depression in the neonate. BELBUCA is not recommended for use in women immediately prior
to labor, when shorter-acting analgesics or other analgesic techniques are more appropriate. Opioid
analgesics, including BELBUCA, can prolong labor through actions which temporarily reduce the strength,
duration, and frequency of uterine contractions. However, this effect is not consistent and may be offset by
an increased rate of cervical dilation, which tends to shorten labor.
The exposure margins listed below are based on body surface area comparisons (mg/m2) to MRHD of 1.8 mg
buprenorphine via BELBUCA.
Following oral administration to rats no teratogenic effects were observed at buprenorphine doses up to
250 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure approximately 1351 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg). Following oral
administration to rabbits, no teratogenic effects were observed at buprenorphine doses up to 40 mg/kg/day
(estimated exposure approximately 432 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg). No definitive drug-related teratogenic
effects were observed in rats and rabbits at IM doses up to 30 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure approximately
161 times and 324 times, respectively, the MRHD of 1.8 mg). Acephalus was observed in one rabbit fetus from
the low-dose group and omphalocele was observed in two rabbit fetuses from the same litter in the mid-dose
group; no findings were observed in fetuses from the high-dose group. Following oral administration of
buprenorphine to rats, dose-related post-implantation losses, evidenced by increases in the numbers of early
resorptions with consequent reductions in the numbers of fetuses, were observed at doses of 10 mg/kg/day or
greater (estimated exposure approximately 54 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg).
In the rabbit, increased post-implantation losses occurred at an oral dose of 40 mg/kg/day. Following IM
administration in the rat and the rabbit, post-implantation losses, as evidenced by decreases in live fetuses and
increases in resorptions, occurred at 30 mg/kg/day.
Buprenorphine was not teratogenic in rats or rabbits after IM or subcutaneous (SC) doses up to 5 mg/kg/day
(estimated exposure was approximately 27 and 54 times, respectively, the MRHD of 1.8 mg), after IV doses up
to 0.8 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was approximately 4.3 and 8.7 times, respectively, the MRHD of
1.8 mg), or after oral doses up to 160 mg/kg/day in rats (estimated exposure was approximately 865 times the
MRHD of 1.8 mg) and 25 mg/kg/day in rabbits (estimated exposure was approximately 270 times the MRHD of
1.8 mg). Significant increases in skeletal abnormalities (e.g., extra thoracic vertebra or thoraco-lumbar ribs)
were noted in rats after SC administration of 1 mg/kg/day and up (estimated exposure was approximately
5.4 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg), but were not observed at oral doses up to 160 mg/kg/day.
Increases in skeletal abnormalities in rabbits after IM administration of 5 mg/kg/day (estimated exposure was
approximately 54 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg) or oral administration of 1 mg/kg/day or greater (estimated
exposure was approximately 10.8 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg) were not statistically significant.
In rabbits, buprenorphine produced statistically significant pre-implantation losses at oral doses of 1 mg/kg/day
or greater and post-implantation losses that were statistically significant at IV doses of 0.2 mg/kg/day or greater
(estimated exposure approximately 2.2 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg).
Dystocia was noted in pregnant rats treated intramuscularly with buprenorphine during gestation and lactation at
5 mg/kg/day (approximately 27 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg). Fertility, pre-, and post-natal development studies
with buprenorphine in rats indicated increases in neonatal mortality after oral doses of 0.8 mg/kg/day and up
(approximately 4.3 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg), after IM doses of 0.5 mg/kg/day and up (approximately
2.7 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg), and after SC doses of 0.1 mg/kg/day and up (approximately 0.5 times the
MRHD of 1.8 mg). An apparent lack of milk production during these studies likely contributed to the decreased
pup viability and lactation indices. Delays in the occurrence of righting reflex and startle response were noted in
rat pups at an oral dose of 80 mg/kg/day (approximately 432 times the MRHD of 1.8 mg).
Based on two studies in 13 lactating women being treated for opioid dependence and their breastfed infants,
buprenorphine and its metabolite norbuprenorphine are present in low levels in human milk and infant urine,
and available data have not shown adverse reactions in breastfed infants [see Data]. There are no data on the
effects of BELBUCA on milk production. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions, including
excess sedation and respiratory depression in a breastfed infant, advise patients that breastfeeding is not
recommended during treatment with BELBUCA.
Monitor infants exposed to BELBUCA through breast milk for excess sedation and respiratory depression.
Withdrawal symptoms can occur in breastfed infants when maternal administration of buprenorphine is stopped
or when breastfeeding is stopped.
Based on limited data from a study of six lactating women being treated for opioid dependence who were taking
a median oral dose of buprenorphine of 0.29 mg/kg/day 5-8 days after delivery, breast milk contained a median
infant dose of 0.42 mcg/kg/day of buprenorphine and 0.33 mcg/kg/day of norbuprenorphine, which are equal to
0.2% and 0.12% of the maternal weight-adjusted dose. The median concentrations of buprenorphine and
norbuprenorphine in infant urine were 1.0 nmol/L and 2.3 nmol/L, respectively.
Based on limited data from a study of seven lactating women being treated for opioid dependence who were
taking a median oral dose of buprenorphine of 7 mg/day an average of 1.12 months after delivery, the mean
milk concentrations of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine were 3.65 mcg/L and 1.94 mcg/L, respectively.
Based on the limited data from this study, and assuming milk consumption of 150 mL/kg/day, an exclusively
breastfed infant would receive an estimated mean of 0.55 mcg/kg/day of buprenorphine and 0.29 mcg/kg/day of
norbuprenorphine, which are 0.38% and 0.18% of the maternal weight-adjusted dose.
No adverse reactions were observed in the infants in these two studies.
Females And Males Of Reproductive Potential
Chronic use of opioids may cause reduced fertility in females and males of reproductive potential. It is not
known whether these effects on fertility are reversible [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Nonclinical Toxicology].
The safety and efficacy of BELBUCA have not been established in pediatric patients.
Of the total number of patients that were treated with BELBUCA in controlled and open-label chronic pain
trials (2,127), 340 patients were 65 years and older. Of those, 49 patients were aged 75 years and older. The
incidences of selected BELBUCA-related adverse effects were higher in older subjects.
No notable differences in pharmacokinetics were observed from population pharmacokinetic analysis in
subjects aged 65 compared to younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience with buprenorphine has not
identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. Although specific dose
adjustments on the basis of advanced age are not required for pharmacokinetic reasons, use caution in the
elderly population to ensure safe use. Titrate the dosage of BELBUCA slowly in geriatric patients and monitor
closely for signs of central nervous system and respiratory depression [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
Buprenorphine is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of adverse reactions to this drug
may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have
decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection, and it may be useful to monitor renal function.
BELBUCA has not been evaluated in patients with severe hepatic impairment.
The effects of hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of buprenorphine were evaluated in a
pharmacokinetic study. Buprenorphine is extensively metabolized in the liver and buprenorphine plasma levels
were found to be higher and the half-life was found to be longer in subjects with moderate and severe hepatic
impairment, but not in subjects with mild hepatic impairment.
Given that increased buprenorphine plasma levels are associated with a greater risk of toxicity and overdose, a
dosage reduction in patients with severe hepatic impairment (i.e., Child-Pugh C) is recommended [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. Monitor patients with severe hepatic impairment for signs and symptoms of
overdose. A dosage reduction in patients with moderate hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh B) is not needed;
however, monitor these patients for signs and symptoms of toxicity or overdose. A dosage reduction in patients
with mild hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh A) is not needed [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].