The tablet form of Suboxone will soon disappear from pharmacies across the United States. Reckitt Benckiser, the company in Britain responsible for making the prescription medication used for withdrawals due to opiate addiction, alerted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently that they would no longer be selling the drug “due to increasing concerns with pediatric exposure.”
Why? Reckitt Benckiser received a report from the US Poison Control Centers that found Suboxone in the tablet form was eight times more likely to be ingested by children than the Suboxone films also dispensed by the company. The tablets are sold with childproof caps, but the films come in their own individually sealed packets.
Reckitt Benckiser did not make clear how many children have suffered due to exposure to Suboxone pills. The company’s global medical director, Tim Baxter, MD, did state in an interview that they are aware of four pediatric deaths caused by accidental ingestion of Suboxone tablets.
Buprenorphine Involved in Significant Number of Emergency Health Situations
Suboxone contains both the active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid similar in effect to morphine, codeine or heroin. It is used for acute detox or long-term weaning from opioid drugs of abuse because it doesn’t produce the same intensity of euphoria as the drugs they are replacing. Naloxone helps to further buffer drug abuse because it actually blocks opioid receptors in the brain, so no positive effect will occur if an addict attempts to inject Suboxone rather than take it orally as directed.
According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), buprenorphine products are implicated in 1.3 percent of emergency room cases each year. This number is significant enough that it is reasonable to believe that Reckitt Benckiser is making a responsible decision to protect American kids from potential harm.
Critics Say Reckitt Benckiser Is Looking Out for Their Bottom Line
Although it is comforting to think that a pharmaceutical company is looking out for the health and welfare of our children, some skeptics don’t believe that generosity was the driving force behind the decision to pull Suboxone pills from the market. The company’s patent for the pills is now up and in a statement to their shareholders in 2011 they estimated an 80-percent loss in profits if a generic version emerges to compete with them. They are also set to release a newly patented Suboxone filmstrip that is more potent than the current one.
Abuse of prescription drugs is a danger no matter how old the person who ingests the substance. If abuse of prescription drugs is an issue for you or if you are abusing Suboxone, don’t wait to get help. Call Axis today.