Alere is now Abbott



A semi-synthetic opioid derived from thebaine, one of the constituents of Papaver somniferum (opium poppy). It is a white crystalline powder, principally marketed in tablet form and administered sublingually (beneath the tongue). Buprenorphine is used as an analgesic for moderate to severe pain and for opiate substitution therapy.

Buprenorphine is an effective evidence-based medication used in the treatment of opioid dependence. The primary function is to reduce (and eventually replace) illicit heroin use, and in so doing reduce harm and improve the health and psychological well-being of the patient.

Buprenorphine is not produced in clandestine laboratories. Legitimate pharmaceutical products are diverted to the illicit market through forged prescriptions etc. It is likely that the drug is also illegally imported from foreign manufacturers. Trade names for buprenorphine include, Subutex, Suboxone, and Temgesic.



Buprenorphine is dissolved in alcohol and then injected.



Tablets are crushed and snorted.

  • Pain relief
  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Urinary retention
  • Pin point pupils
  • Confusion
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death
Buprenorphine tablets


Molecular structure of buprenorphine

Street Names

bupe, subs, subbies, orange guys, tummies

Legal Status

Class C Substance

Possession of the drug can lead to up to two years in jail, an unlimited fine or both. Supplying the drug can lead to up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

For more information about drug classifications and the associated penalties visit the Home Office website.