What is Bunavail?
Bunavail is a brand-name medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone.
Buprenorphine is an opioid that has pharmacological properties that make it well suited for opioid replacement therapy:
- It displaces other opioids from their receptors in the brain and blocks other opioids from attaching
- It has low opioid activity (it is a partial opioid agonist), so it causes very little euphoria and has a low risk of overdose
- It has a long half-life, so it can be dosed every other day or twice weekly
- It has a “ceiling effect,” meaning its negative effects max out and don’t increase with further use
Naloxone, the other active ingredient in Bunavail, is the perfect addition to buprenorphine. It is an opioid blocker (opioid antagonist). It prevents attempts at abusing opioids by blocking the effects of opioids.
Although there are other pharmaceutical buprenorphine-naloxone combinations available, Bunavail is unique in that it comes as a small, thin strip that dissolves when it is applied to the inside of the cheek, inside the mouth. Bunavail strips are bi-layered with the medication side and a backing to prevent swallowing the medication. It is the only buprenorphine product that has this feature.
Bunavail Approval by FDA
Bunavail FDA approval was first received in 2002 for use in the maintenance treatment phase of medically-assisted treatment, and in 2017 for the initiation of buprenorphine treatment.
Bunavail vs. Suboxone
Bunavail and Suboxone both contain the same two medications but have slightly different delivery systems. Suboxone comes in a tablet that dissolves under the tongue.
Because of how the Bunavail strip distributed medication, Bunavail gets more medication into the bloodstream and less swallowed than Suboxone does. This factor is important because buprenorphine does not work well when swallowed.