BUNAVAIL contains buprenorphine, the same medicine found in other medications designed for the treatment of opioid dependence.
Unlike some medications patients may take for opioid dependence, BUNAVAIL is not administered under the tongue. It is the only medication that uses special film technology to stick to the inside of the cheek to deliver buprenorphine. It’s discreet so no one knows your patients are taking it, and they can speak and swallow normally as it dissolves.
The unique technology in BUNAVAIL includes a backing layer, which helps to direct medication into the bloodstream and stop it from flowing back into the mouth where it could be swallowed. In fact, with BUNAVAIL, patients get the same amount of medication as they do with Suboxone but from a smaller total dose.
BUNAVAIL is called a buccal film because it adheres to the buccal mucosa. So, rather than your patients holding BUNAVAIL under the tongue, it sticks to the inside of the cheek.
BUNAVAIL buccal film is made of 2 layers: the top layer and the backing layer. The top layer contains the dose of buprenorphine. It sticks to the inside of the cheek and begins to deliver medication right away. The backing layer helps direct the flow of buprenorphine into the bloodstream and stops some of it from flowing back into the mouth where it might be swallowed.
The 2 layers in BUNAVAIL buccal film allow for a more efficient delivery of medication. In the end, patients get the same effect as they would from Suboxone from half the amount of buprenorphine.
As the BUNAVAIL film dissolves, it will remain fixed to the cheek so patients can speak and swallow normally.
The doses of BUNAVAIL are less than what my patients are used to getting. Does that mean they’re getting less medication?*
BUNAVAIL has about half the overall dose of Suboxone because its unique route of administration and 2-layer design allows it to deliver buprenorphine more efficiently. The same amount of buprenorphine gets into the bloodstream through the cheek and less flows back into the mouth where it could be swallowed.
As a result, BUNAVAIL can be given as a lower dose while giving patients the same amount of buprenorphine as Suboxone.
The side of the film with the dose strength, eg, BN4, printed on it should be placed against their cheek. This side of the film is designed to stick to the cheek when it comes into contact with moisture and delivers buprenorphine as it dissolves.
What should my patients do if they can’t get BUNAVAIL to stick to their cheek, or it sticks to their teeth or folds over itself?
If your patients encounter any problems while applying BUNAVAIL, don’t panic. First, tell them to readjust the film on their finger and try to reapply the film to the inside of their cheek. If the film won’t adhere, properly dispose of it and try again with a new film. Remember to make sure their mouth is moist.
Tell your patients to try to not get frustrated if their first few attempts at applying BUNAVAIL feel awkward; they’ll get used to it with some practice. They should try it with the practice films included in their starter kit, and ask you for more practice films as needed.
Some patients say that BUNAVAIL film feels sticky or gummy as it dissolves. This can be considered normal and is due to the materials in BUNAVAIL that cause it to stick to the inside of the cheek and efficiently deliver buprenorphine into the bloodstream.
BUNAVAIL begins to dissolve as soon as it’s placed against the inside of the cheek. The time it takes to dissolve varies by person. Patients should leave the BUNAVAIL film in their mouth until it is fully dissolved.
During this time, they can speak and swallow normally and interact with others without them knowing they’re taking their medication.
The BUNAVAIL film is made of 2 layers, each with a different thickness. The backing layer is thicker than the top layer and since it’s thicker, it will take more time to dissolve. This design allows the backing layer to stop some of the buprenorphine from flowing back into the mouth where it can be swallowed.
Patients can speak and swallow normally while taking BUNAVAIL. However, they shouldn’t eat or drink as that may cause the film to come off their cheek before it’s fully dissolved.
Patients should not drink alcohol while using BUNAVAIL, as this can lead to loss of consciousness or even death.
There are no restrictions regarding smoking when taking BUNAVAIL.
BUNAVAIL should be applied comfortably to the middle of the inside of the cheek. Once BUNAVAIL adheres, patients should try to not play with it with their tongue as this can cause the film to move. As they continue to apply BUNAVAIL, they’ll find a spot that works best for them.
If your patient is applying more than one film at a time, make sure they put them on opposite cheeks.
BUNAVAIL is a maintenance medication. That means it should be taken on a regular basis for the treatment of opioid dependence. Patients should work with you on coming up with a treatment plan that’s right for them. Make sure they take BUNAVAIL as prescribed.
What should my patients do if they still have cravings or think they may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms?
Your patient should continue to take their medication as prescribed and call you to discuss their symptoms.
In a scientific study, 249 people who took Suboxone switched to BUNAVAIL for 12 weeks. Before they switched to BUNAVAIL, up to 6.8% of people had oral abnormalities over 2 examinations. During the 12 weeks of the study, researchers conducted more than 1000 examinations of people’s mouths. They found that 2.4% of people had an oral abnormality, but no abnormalities were seen in the last 4 weeks of the study.
If your patients do experience any side effects, they should call you right away.
The BUNAVAIL Savings Program is available to help eligible patients pay for their medication. Whether they have commercial insurance or are paying out of pocket for their medication, the BUNAVAIL Savings Program can help reduce the cost of their medication.
Visit BunavailSavingsCard.com for more information and to print a savings card.
Relative bioavailability determined with Suboxone tablets.
If your patient places the wrong side of the film against their cheek, BUNAVAIL will not adhere.
- BUNAVAIL® [prescribing information]. Raleigh, NC: BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc; 2015.
- Vasisht N, Stark J, Bai SA, Finn A. Buprenorphine/naloxone buccal film has a relative buprenorphine bioavailability approximately twice that of buprenorphine/naloxone sublingual tablet. Poster presented at: 45th Annual American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM); April 10-13, 2014; Orlando, FL.