Is a Probuphine a Subutex? Unraveling the Differences8 min read

Are you curious about the distinctions between Probuphine and Subutex? These two medications play vital roles in treating opioid dependence, but they operate in unique ways. In this comprehensive article, we’ll dive deep into the characteristics that set Probuphine and Subutex apart. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of which option may be best suited for specific situations.

  • Form of Administration: Learn how Probuphine’s implant and Subutex’s sublingual tablet differ in delivering treatment.
  • Active Ingredients: Discover the specific composition of Probuphine and Subutex.
  • Duration of Effectiveness: Understand how long these medications maintain their therapeutic impact.
  • Use in Opioid Dependence Treatment: Explore the roles Probuphine and Subutex play in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).
  • Regulation and Prescription Requirements: Get insights into the legal considerations for these medications.
  • Possible Side Effects and Risks: Delve into the potential side effects and safety concerns associated with both options.

Form of Administration

Probuphine utilizes a unique subdermal implant system, providing continuous, extended-release buprenorphine for six months. In contrast, Subutex comes in the form of sublingual tablets, which are dissolved under the tongue. This distinction in administration methods impacts the frequency of medication intake and convenience for patients.

Active Ingredients

Probuphine exclusively contains buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist that eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings without causing a high. Subutex, on the other hand, also contains buprenorphine as its primary active ingredient, but it lacks naloxone, a component found in another medication, Suboxone.

Duration of Effectiveness

  • Probuphine: Ensures a consistent level of buprenorphine for six months, reducing the need for daily medication.
  • Subutex: Requires daily dosing, potentially resulting in more frequent adjustments and management.

Use in Opioid Dependence Treatment

Both Probuphine and Subutex are integral parts of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid dependence. They aid individuals in overcoming addiction by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The choice between them often depends on patient preferences and specific medical assessments.

Regulation and Prescription Requirements

  • Probuphine: Due to its implant nature, its prescription and administration are closely monitored by healthcare professionals.
  • Subutex: More widely available, Subutex still requires a prescription but may involve less stringent monitoring.

Possible Side Effects and Risks

Probuphine and Subutex may both lead to side effects, but the specific risks vary. Understanding these differences is crucial for patient safety and informed decision-making.

Comparing Side Effects

Probuphine Side Effects

Probuphine’s implantation process can lead to localized reactions like pain, swelling, and infection at the implant site. In contrast, systemic side effects are minimal, as the medication is released steadily.

Possible Probuphine Side Effects:

  • Localized Reactions: Pain, swelling, redness, or infection at the implant site.
  • Implant Migration: Rare instances of the implant moving within the body.
  • Allergic Reactions: Uncommon but possible hypersensitivity reactions.

Subutex Side Effects

Subutex, taken orally, may cause more immediate side effects, including nausea, dizziness, and headaches. The absence of naloxone in Subutex can increase the risk of misuse.

Possible Subutex Side Effects:

  • Nausea and Vomiting: Common side effects, especially during initial use.
  • Dizziness and Drowsiness: May affect coordination and alertness.
  • Misuse Potential: Lack of naloxone increases the risk of misuse, particularly via injection.

Effectiveness in Reducing Cravings

Probuphine’s Role in Craving Reduction

Probuphine’s continuous release of buprenorphine helps maintain stable drug levels, which can effectively reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Subutex’s Impact on Cravings

Subutex also alleviates cravings, but its effectiveness may vary due to the need for daily dosing.

Special Considerations for Pregnant Women

Probuphine in Pregnancy

Probuphine may be an option for pregnant women, but careful evaluation and monitoring are necessary.

Subutex in Pregnancy

Subutex is often recommended during pregnancy, as it can reduce the risk of complications associated with opioid use.

Cost Comparison

Probuphine’s Cost Factors

The expense of Probuphine includes the implantation procedure, which can be costly, but it eliminates the need for daily medication.

Subutex’s Cost Considerations

Subutex may have a lower initial cost, but it involves ongoing expenses for daily medication.

Accessibility and Availability

Probuphine Accessibility

Probuphine may be less accessible due to the specialized implantation procedure, limiting its availability in certain locations.

Subutex Availability

Subutex, being a sublingual tablet, is more widely available and can be prescribed by a broader range of healthcare providers.

Potential for Tolerance and Dependence

Probuphine and Tolerance

Patients using Probuphine may develop some level of tolerance over time, necessitating careful monitoring and possible dose adjustments.

Subutex and Tolerance

Subutex users may also develop tolerance, which could lead to a need for higher doses to achieve the same therapeutic effect.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Probuphine Withdrawal

Discontinuing Probuphine can result in withdrawal symptoms, which may require transitioning to other forms of buprenorphine.

Subutex Withdrawal

Subutex withdrawal symptoms can be challenging but manageable with proper medical guidance, ensuring a smoother transition.

Duration of Treatment

Long-Term Use of Probuphine

Probuphine offers a longer duration of treatment due to its six-month implant, making it suitable for extended therapy.

Long-Term Use of Subutex

Subutex is typically used for long-term maintenance therapy but requires daily dosing, which can be a consideration for some patients.

Potential for Abuse and Diversion

Risks of Diversion with Probuphine

Probuphine has a lower risk of diversion since the implant cannot be easily misused or distributed illicitly.

Risks of Diversion with Subutex

Subutex, available in tablet form, carries a higher risk of diversion and misuse.

Considerations for Switching Medications

Switching to Probuphine

Transitioning from Subutex to Probuphine requires a careful assessment by a healthcare provider. The switch may be considered if a patient desires a less frequent dosing schedule and is a suitable candidate for implantation.

Switching to Subutex

Switching from Probuphine to Subutex can be more straightforward, but it requires daily dosing. Patients may opt for this change if they prefer a different form of medication or experience challenges with the implant.

Monitoring and Follow-Up

Probuphine Monitoring

Patients using Probuphine should undergo regular follow-up appointments to assess the implant’s effectiveness, potential side effects, and the need for adjustments.

Subutex Monitoring

Subutex users also require consistent monitoring to evaluate their response to treatment, manage side effects, and prevent misuse.

Patient Education and Informed Choice

Educating Probuphine Patients

Healthcare providers must educate patients about the implantation procedure, benefits, and potential side effects, enabling them to make informed decisions about their treatment.

Educating Subutex Patients

Patients prescribed Subutex need comprehensive information about dosing, risks, and the importance of taking the medication as directed.

Patient Preferences and Individualized Treatment

Respecting Patient Preferences with Probuphine

Probuphine may be preferred by patients who value the convenience of less frequent dosing and the reduced risk of medication diversion.

Considering Individual Needs with Subutex

Subutex can be tailored to individual needs, with flexibility in dosing adjustments, making it suitable for patients with specific requirements.

Healthcare Provider Expertise

Expertise in Probuphine Administration

Healthcare providers offering Probuphine must undergo specialized training to ensure proper implantation, emphasizing the need for qualified professionals.

Prescribing Subutex Safely

Healthcare providers prescribing Subutex should have a deep understanding of addiction medicine to manage patients effectively.


Probuphine and Subutex are distinct options in the treatment of opioid dependence, each with its advantages and considerations. The choice between these medications should be made after careful evaluation of individual patient needs, preferences, and medical guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is Probuphine the same as Subutex?

Answer: No, Probuphine and Subutex are not the same. They are both medications used in the treatment of opioid dependence, but they differ in terms of administration, active ingredients, and duration of effectiveness.

2. How does Probuphine’s implant work?

Answer: Probuphine’s implant consists of small rods inserted under the skin, releasing buprenorphine continuously for six months. It provides a consistent level of medication to manage opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

3. Can Subutex be misused like other opioids?

Answer: Yes, Subutex can be misused, especially if taken in ways other than prescribed. Its absence of naloxone, present in Suboxone, can make it more susceptible to misuse through injection.

4. Are there any age restrictions for Probuphine and Subutex?

Answer: There are generally no age restrictions for these medications, but their use in adolescents and young adults may require careful evaluation by healthcare providers.

5. What are the main advantages of Probuphine over Subutex?

Answer: Probuphine offers the advantage of less frequent dosing (every six months) and reduced risk of diversion, making it suitable for patients who prefer convenience and lower misuse potential.

6. Can I switch from Subutex to Probuphine if I find daily dosing challenging?

Answer: Switching from Subutex to Probuphine is possible but requires careful assessment and guidance from a healthcare provider. It can be a suitable option for those who struggle with daily dosing.

7. Are there any interactions between Probuphine or Subutex and other medications?

Answer: Both medications can interact with certain drugs. It’s crucial to inform your healthcare provider about all medications, supplements, or substances you are taking to ensure safe and effective treatment.

8. What should I do if I experience side effects from Probuphine or Subutex?

Answer: If you experience side effects from either medication, contact your healthcare provider immediately. They can assess the severity of the side effects and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

9. Can pregnant women use Probuphine or Subutex?

Answer: Both medications may be used during pregnancy, but the decision should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider who can weigh the benefits and potential risks for the mother and baby.

10. Are Probuphine and Subutex covered by insurance?

Answer: Insurance coverage can vary depending on your specific plan and location. It’s advisable to check with your insurance provider to determine whether Probuphine or Subutex is covered and what costs may be associated with their use.