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April 1978

Human Pharmacology and Abuse Potential of the Analgesic BuprenorphineA Potential Agent for Treating Narcotic Addiction

Author Affiliations

From the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Division of Research, Addiction Research Center, Lexington, Ky. Dr Pevnick is now with St Louis State Hospital.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978;35(4):501-516. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1978.01770280111012

• Buprenorphine was evaluated for its abuse potential and utility in treating narcotic addiction. The drug was morphine-like but was 25 to 50 times more potent than morphine and was longer-acting. Little if any physical dependence of clinical significance was produced by buprenorphine. The effects of morphine to 120-mg doses were blocked by buprenorphine, a blockade that persisted for 291/2 hours. In man, buprenorphine has less intrinsic activity than morphine, and as such, has a low abuse potential. Moreover, the drug has potential for treating narcotic addiction since it is acceptable to addicts, is long-acting, produces a low level of physical dependence such that patients may be easily detoxified, is less toxic than drugs used for maintenance therapy, and blocks the effects of narcotics.