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  • What Is Belbuca? | Uses, Side Effects, & Warnings

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    What Is Belbuca? | Uses, Side Effects, & Warnings

    Belbuca is the brand name for buccal films that contain buprenorphine. Buccal films are small, bi-layered polymer films that dissolve once placed inside the cheek.

    These rectangular films are a long-acting opioid analgesic medication that’s used as an around-the-clock pain management treatment for severe chronic pain that is not controlled by other types of medication. This medication is not meant for occasional or as-needed use.

    Belbuca works by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system and blocking pain signals from the body to the brain.

    Belbuca Uses

    Belbuca buccal film is a prescription drug used to treat chronic severe pain. It can be used alone or along with other medications. 

    To use this formulation, you place the Belbuca film between your gum and the inside of your cheek. Make sure the yellow side is against your cheek. From there, it sticks to the moist buccal mucosa and delivers the medication as the film dissolves. 

    It is typically prescribed to be used twice a day for pain relief and as a partial opioid agonist, it can be safer than full opioid agonists like morphine or oxycodone. It’s usually found in strengths ranging from 75 mcg to 150 mcg.

    Side Effects Of Belbuca

    Belbuca may help with pain management, but it also comes with some side effects as well. These side effects can range in intensity from mild to severe and some are more common than others.

    The most common side effects of Belbuca may include:

    • constipation
    • nausea and vomiting
    • dizziness
    • drowsiness
    • insomnia
    • diarrhea
    • dry mouth
    • abdominal pain
    • fever
    • loss of appetite
    • muscle spasms
    • anxiety and depression
    • high blood pressure

    Serious Side Effects of Belbuca

    While not as common, Belbuca also can lead to a number of serious side effects. If you experience any of the following, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible:

    • swelling of the face, arms, hands, or feet
    • blurred vision
    • difficulty breathing
    • frequent urination
    • rapid weight gain
    • chest pain
    • irregular heartbeat
    • allergic reactions like hives and rash
    • loss of coordination
    • tremors

    Belbuca Warnings

    Belbuca is an FDA-approved medication, but it still comes with some warnings that you should be aware of before taking the drug.

    Abuse Potential

    Buprenorphine is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This means that it has a relatively high potential for abuse and can lead to psychological and physical dependence as well as addiction.

    Opioid dependence means you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you stop use. Belbuca addiction means you continue to use opioids despite consequences to your health, relationships, and life overall.

    Drug Interactions

    There are also quite a few medications that don’t react well when combined with Belbuca. If they are taken together, the mixture can create serious adverse reactions and can increase the risk of overdose.

    Some of the drugs that shouldn’t be taken with Belbuca include:

    • over-the-counter supplements
    • blood pressure medication
    • medicine to treat HIV or hepatitis C
    • other opioid medications, including tramadol
    • benzodiazepines
    • muscle relaxants
    • cyclobenzaprine (Amrix)
    • selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors like citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro)
    • serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors like duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor)
    • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) like linezolid (Zyvox)

    Contraindications

    There are also some medical conditions that Belbuca can make worse. If you have any of the following health issues, talk to your doctor before they prescribe Belbuca:

    • long QT syndrome/QT prolongation
    • paralytic ileus
    • bowel blockage
    • irregular heartbeat
    • heart failure
    • low blood pressure
    • sleep apnea
    • seizures
    • head injury
    • gallbladder, pancreas, kidney, thyroid, or liver disease

    If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, Belbuca may not be right for you. When pregnant, the drug can lead to neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome once the baby is born. This occurs when they’re no longer receiving the drug and leads to symptoms like irritability, difficulty feeding, respiratory problems, and seizures.

    When breastfeeding, Belbuca can transfer from the breast milk to the baby. Even though it’s in relatively small doses, it’s not recommended.

    Belbuca Overdose

    If you abuse Belbuca or take it in high doses, you can increase the risk of a life-threatening opioid overdose. Some of the signs and symptoms you can look out for include:

    • trouble breathing
    • life-threatening respiratory depression
    • extreme sleepiness
    • severe sedation
    • unconsciousness
    • slow heartbeat
    • cold, clammy skin
    • muscle weakness
    • narrowing or widening of the pupils

    If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical help immediately and administer naloxone (Narcan) if it’s available. It can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

    If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid use or addiction, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Ark Behavioral Health is here to help you on your recovery journey. 

    We offer a wide variety of treatment options including detox, inpatient and outpatient care, mental health counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and aftercare support.

    To learn more, please call our helpline today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Article Sources

    Belbuca - Approved Use
    Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Belbuca
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Buprenorphine Buccal (chronic pain)

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