In this Belbuca Review, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about the use of Belbuca for chronic pain relief. The “Chronic Pain Epidemic” is going strong.
According to the CDC, in 2016 an estimated 20.4% (50.0 million) of U.S. adults had chronic pain and 8.0% of U.S. adults (19.6 million) had high-impact chronic pain.
These statistics are disturbing, to say the least.
And the number of individuals with chronic pain continues to rise every year at alarming rates.
In the past, the first line of medical treatment was often a prescription for opioid painkillers.
But due to the high amount of opioid addiction and opioid overdose rates — which quadrupled from 1999 to 2016 — in 2016, the CDC released new guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain.
Among the 12 new guidelines, there were three key principles:
- Nonopioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care.
- When opioids are used, the lowest possible effective dose should be prescribed to reduce risks of opioid use disorder and overdose.
- Providers should always exercise caution when prescribing opioids and monitor all patients closely.
Since these new opioid prescribing guidelines were released, a superabundance of individuals using opioids for chronic pain has either been weened down to lower dosages or taken off opioids completely.
Many doctors have wanted to protect themselves and “cover their butts” out of fear of getting in trouble… and possibly losing their license.
Additionally, opioid addiction and overdose rates continue to skyrocket.
In an effort to provide chronic pain treatment while still minimizing the risk of opioid addiction and overdose, many doctors are now prescribing Belbuca, an opioid pain medication that is less dangerous than opioids like OxyContin, Percocet, and methadone.
Read on to learn how Belbuca works, and how it’s different than traditional opioid painkillers.
Table of Contents
On October 23, 2015, the FDA approved Belbuca for the management of pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate.
Belbuca buccal film is a formulation of the popular drug buprenorphine.
Since 2002, buprenorphine formulations have been prescribed to treat opioid use disorder (OUD).
Buprenorphine is different from traditional opioids for treating chronic pain in the following ways:
- Long-Acting – Hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, and many other opioids are short-acting, so you have to take them up to 4-6 times a day to get around-the-clock pain relief.
- Partial Agonist – Traditional opioid drugs are full opioid agonists, which means they completely fill and activate the mu opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, digestive system, and other areas of the body. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it’s not as strong as a full agonist drug.
- Ceiling Effect – With typical opioids, the more you take the more effects you feel, which means you can overdose and die if you take too much. Buprenorphine has a “ceiling effect” at 32 mg. This means that if you take more than 32 mg you won’t experience more effects, so it’s much harder to overdose and die taking buprenorphine.
Belbuca Mechanism of Action
Since buprenorphine is an opioid, it provides pain relief in the same way as other opioid painkillers. When a person takes buprenorphine, the drug binds to the opioid receptors, which causes a massive release of endorphins.
Endorphins are neurotransmitters we create naturally.
They act as powerful natural painkillers.
But a proven way to get effective pain relief is to take opioid drugs because they can often create much higher endorphin levels in the body than natural methods.
Why is Belbuca Different?
According to Belbuca.com, “BELBUCA® is different from other opioid medications. BELBUCA® contains buprenorphine, which is a long-acting opioid. This means BELBUCA® can be taken every 12 hours, instead of the every 4 to 6 hours like immediate-release opioids.
BELBUCA® comes in the form of a small, thin square film. You don’t swallow BELBUCA®, instead, you put the film in your mouth and press it against the inside of your cheek. Within a few seconds, BELBUCA® adheres to the inside of your cheek. While BELBUCA® is dissolving (usually within 30 minutes), you can speak and swallow normally.
The film technology helps the medicine in BELBUCA® get into your bloodstream more efficiently because, unlike a tablet, it doesn’t have to go through your digestive system first. This delivery allows for pain relief to be achieved with individual doses of less than 1 mg every 12 hours.”
Belbucca Side Effects
Some individuals that use Belbuca get a small number of minor side effects. Other individuals using the medication experience moderate or even severe side effects.
Here are some of the most common Belbuca side effects:
- Back pain
- Cough or hoarseness
- Difficulty having a bowel movement
- Lower back or side pain
- Painful or difficult urination
- Runny nose
- Stomach pain
- Stuffy nose
- Trouble sleeping
Less common side effects are:
- Feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheaded
- Feeling of warmth or heat
- Flushing or redness of the skin, especially on the face and neck
- Lack or loss of strength
Belbuca Dosage For Chronic Pain
According to Drugs.com, physicians are advised to “Initiate treatment in opioid-naïve and opioid-non-tolerant patients with a 75 mcg film once daily or, if tolerated, every 12 hours for at least 4 days, then increase dose to 150 mcg every 12 hours. Individual titration to a dose that provides adequate analgesia and minimizes adverse reactions should proceed in increments of 150 mcg every 12 hours, no more frequently than every 4 days.”
For patients that are already using opioids, Drugs.com advises physicians to “Discontinue all other around-the-clock opioid drugs when BELBUCA therapy is initiated.
There is a potential for buprenorphine to precipitate withdrawal in patients who are already on opioids. To reduce the risk of opioid withdrawal, taper patients to no more than 30 mg oral morphine sulfate equivalents (MSE) daily before beginning BELBUCA. Following analgesic taper, base the starting dose on the patient’s daily opioid dose prior to taper.”
- Chronic pain now affects more than 1 in 5 American adults.
- While opioid drugs have offered effective relief of chronic pain, opioid addiction and overdose rates have risen so high that in 2016 the CDC released new opioid prescribing guidelines.
- With the new guidelines, people with chronic pain are much less likely to be prescribed opioids as the first line of treatment.
- Belbuca was approved in 2015 for the treatment of severe, around-the-clock pain.
- Belbuca contains buprenorphine, which is a long-acting partial opioid agonist, which is considered safer than short-acting full agonists.
- Daily use of Belbuca for a few weeks or longer will lead to a physiological dependence, meaning your “body becomes addicted to the drug.”
- Belbuca use can also lead to psychological dependence and addiction, as it’s still a powerful drug.
- Some Belbuca users have mild side effects from the drug, while others experience moderate or severe side effects.
- Belbuca helps many people to significantly reduce their pain, while others experience only a little pain relief.
If you have any comments or questions on the use of Belbuca for chronic pain, please post them in the comment box below.