Difference Between Subutex And Suboxone

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses the difference between Suboxone and Subutex and issues with filling both.

Jul 19, 2018

Tim asked

I wanted to know if Subutex and Suboxone are considered the same drug at pharmacies? If your doctor changes you from Subutex to Suboxone, can you fill your valid script 25 days after filing a Subutex 28 day supply?


Although they share a similar name, Suboxone and Subutex are not the same. They both contain buprenorphine, an opiate agonist-antagonist, but Suboxone also contains naloxone, an opiate antagonist.

Suboxone Active Ingredients

  • Buprenorphine
  • Naloxone

Subutex Active Ingredient

  • Buprenorphine

Naloxone is added to Suboxone for the sole reason of deterring abuse. When Suboxone is taken by mouth as indicated, the naloxone component is not absorbed in a significant amount and therefore does not produce any effects.

However, if an individual injects Suboxone intravenously, the naloxone component will bind to, and block, opioid receptors in the body. This will block other opioid medications from binding to receptors, and therefore, will not produce a "high". In fact, it is important to note that injecting Suboxone could very well precipitate withdrawal in those dependent on opioids (because naloxone blocks other opioids from binding).

How Pharmacies Classify Subutex And Suboxone

Since Subutex and Suboxone are different drugs, your pharmacy will treat them differently. If you were previously taking Subutex, and your doctor switched you to Suboxone, you shouldn't have any trouble filling it. Your pharmacy may check with your doctor to confirm that you are switching, but it shouldn't cause any issues past that.

If you are consistently trying to fill both together, or fill both close to each other, your pharmacy will most likely contact your doctor just to confirm how you should be using the medications or if one is being discontinued.

In your situation, filling Suboxone 25 days after Subutex, that most likely will not cause any problems at the pharmacy. You are most likely just switching from one to the other, so be sure to tell the pharmacy that so they can make note of it.

Ready for a more personal experience with your meds?