Jul 12, 2021

Buprenorphine: A Molecule for All Seasons

Buprenorphine was developed by UK based Reckitt & Colman Products and released in the United Kingdom in 1978. That same year, a clinical study determined that buprenorphine could be helpful in reducing cravings of pure opioids in patients with an opioid abuse disorder.

Then, a separate study published in 1982 demonstrated that buprenorphine offered excellent analgesia with a blunted abuse liability. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptors and an antagonist at the kappa receptors. Mu-opioid receptor activity produces the analgesic effects of buprenorphine, while a strong affinity for the kappa receptors render them inactive. While initially buprenorphine was used as an anesthetic, currently it has been prescribed for the induction and maintenance in patients with an opioid use disorder.

However, buprenorphine is a unique molecule with multiple applications. This presentation will provide an in-depth discussion of the history of buprenorphine and its application for pain control, opioid use disorders, and antisuicide properties in patients with chronic pain.