Can buprenorphine be used to treat pain and depression?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved injectable buprenorphine to treat pain, and for peri-operative analgesia. Buprenorphine is a powerful analgesic, 20-50 times more powerful than morphine, with less physical dependence. Buprenorphine has also been reported to relieve refractory depression in some cases, but this particular use has never been approved by FDA.

FDA has approved buprenorphine (Subutex®) and buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone®) to treat opioid dependence. However, neither Suboxone® nor Subutex® has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression or pain. Thus any use of Suboxone® and Subutex® for pain or depression is considered an off-label, unapproved use of these medications. Alpha Healing Center does not prescribe any buprenorphine preparations for off-label uses such as pain and depression.

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