Reprinted from the April 2009 Nevada State Board of Pharmacy Newsletter.
Although buprenorphine is not approved for use in pain, pharmacists are seeing an increasing number of prescriptions for this use. Rather than prescribed as a daily dose for addiction, it is usually given three to four times daily for pain. As you are all aware, buprenorphine prescribed for addiction requires the practitioner to have an “X” Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) number, indicating special training in its use. It is legal for you to fill a buprenorphine prescription for pain with the prescriber’s regular DEA number just like all other Schedule III drugs. Your duty is to ensure that the prescription is indeed for the treatment of pain, which should hopefully be noted in the directions. Since buprenorphine can displace opioid agonists, watch for interactions that may precipitate withdrawl.