More children poisoned by buprenorphine

Summary and Analysis…

This is a sobering reminder that buprenorphine and Suboxone are themselves opioids and that historically all broad distribution of opioids comes with unintended consequences.

The study covered in this article reveals that between 2007 and 2016 11,275 children were exposed to these drugs resulting in a call to poison control centers. For those children under six, 89% of the exposures were unintentional. Since these figures represent only incidents reported to poison control centers, one has to wonder what the actual numbers are.

For adolescents who were exposed, 77% were intentional including 12% of them being suspected suicides. Yet another confirmation that buprenorphine has itself become a drug of abuse.

As communities consider expansion of buprenorphine/Suboxone programs, addressing these kinds of unintended consequences should become part of all budget, health care and policing planning.

Excerpted from

(CNN) More than 11,200 calls concerning children’s exposure to buprenorphine, an opioid medication used to treat opioid use disorder, were made to US poison control centers from 2007 to 2016, a new study found. Eighty-six percent of the exposures were in children below the age of 6; 89% of the exposures were unintentional.

“This is never prescribed for children under 6. It is a significant risk to them,” said Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center and an author of the study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. “We’re not quite sure why it stands out so much. Perhaps the parents who have this may not think it’s as risky as their other opiates because it doesn’t have the big effect that the other opiates do for them,” he said, in reference to the medication being left out or within reach of children who then try it.

Experts view these numbers as an unintended consequence of medical therapy being provided to those who need it, said Dr. Jason Kane, an associate professor of pediatrics and critical care at University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital.