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The Cost of Suboxone Treatment

The U.S. is still mired in a national opioid crisis, despite the many restrictions on prescription painkillers, and the reduction of “pill mills.” 

More than 130 people per day die from opioid overdoses. About 21 to 29 percent of people prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and about eight to 12 percent of those who develop opioid use disorder (OUD). 

More than 10 million people abused opioids in 2017 in the United States, data show. Many of these people misused prescription opioids and/or heroin. It can be concluded that these people struggle with opioid use disorder or opioid addiction. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines opioids as a class of drugs that includes the illegal drug heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. It also includes legally prescribed pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and others. 

People who have and take prescriptions for opioid painkillers are also susceptible to becoming dependent and addicted to the narcotic. Fortunately, medication can help people addicted to opioids safely stop using the drugs. 

Suboxone, a government-approved combination drug, is recommended in OUD treatment. Learn everything you need to know about it, including how much it costs.

What Is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).  It contains both the antagonist drug naloxone and the partial opioid agonist buprenorphine. It is most often used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), a form of therapy for people with opioid addictions. 

It is a Schedule III substance on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Controlled Substances Schedule. This means it has accepted medical use but may cause physical or psychological dependence and can be abused.

There are special governmental rules for how Suboxone can be dispensed. Doctors who have received specialized training and certification from the DEA can prescribe and dispense Suboxone.

Suboxone comes in two forms. It can be either a sublingual film or a sublingual tablet. These drug formats are meant to be placed under the tongue to dissolve so that they can be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly. 

Suboxone also comes in a sublingual buccal tablet that is placed between the cheek and gums. There are many tiny blood vessels under the tongue and along the gumline and cheeks where the medicine can absorb quickly into the bloodstream.

How Much Does Suboxone Cost?

Hooded person holding suboxone pills in a plastic bag

The cost for Suboxone will vary depending on whether or not you have medical insurance, and if you have any discount cards. Suboxone is a vital part of the complete addiction treatment plan for people with OUD, but it can be a costly long-term treatment. 

It can range in price from $59 for 14 2-milligram (mg) films to $220 for the 12-mg formulation of the sublingual film strips, depending on the pharmacy where the drug is bought. 

Insurance and Medicaid cover Suboxone treatment, at least partially. Several discount and financing options also help to reduce costs. However, the costs can add up because several doses are usually needed daily to handle the cravings and manage the withdrawal symptoms.

Suboxone Cost with Insurance

Suboxone will vary in price based on these factors:

  • The insurer
  • The individual’s health plan
  • The pharmacy that sells the medicine
  • The clinic or physician that prescribed the medication
  • Dosage amount required

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that buprenorphine and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is usually covered with insurance. Addiction treatment and behavioral health services are often covered by many major health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The insurance coverage used to pay for Suboxone requires the medication is included in the individual plan’s approved medication list. This depends on a few factors: whether or not the medications are covered if there is a medical necessity for the drug, and whether or not the plan requires a copay for medications. 

The entire cost of the medication may not be covered entirely. There could be stipulations on how many refills a person can get and how often. Some plans might require the patient to obtain the generic version of Suboxone instead of the name brand.

Buprenorphine/Naloxone Cost Without Insurance 

Buprenorphine/naloxone is the generic format of Suboxone. It ranges in cost from about $50 to $165 based on the number of milligrams, per Drugs.com, which is based on the use of the site’s discount card. The higher the milligrams are, the higher the price will be. Drugs.com offers a discount card to use and provides more information about the cost of buprenorphine/naloxone. 

There are also savings card from the manufacturer that might also help defray the cost of Suboxone. Explore all the financial and payment options before obtaining your prescription.

Conclusion

People who need to obtain buprenorphine/naloxone or its name brand Suboxone will first need a DEA-certified clinician to write the prescription. Once you have the prescription, take time to find the discount cards available online and print them, before heading to a pharmacy. 

Call the pharmacy in advance to ask how much the prescription will cost and how many refills you can get. Keep in mind that in some cases, the generic brand is just as beneficial as the name brand, and it may save you money.

Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opioids. Retrieved October 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids

Food and Drug Administration. Information about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). February 14, 2019 from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/information-about-medication-assisted-treatment-mat

Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Scheduling from https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling

Medical News Today. Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone). MNT’s Medical Network Reviewed by Lindsay Slowiczek, PharmD. October 16, 2018 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325827.php

TrueMedCost.com. Suboxone Price. Retrieved October 2019 from https://www.truemedcost.com/suboxone-price/

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Opioid Misuse Retrieved October 2019 from https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/practice-support/guidelines-and-consensus-docs/asam-national-practice-guideline-supplement.pdf

Drugs.com. Buprenorphine/naloxone Prices, Coupons and Patient Assistance Programs from https://www.drugs.com/price-guide/buprenorphine-naloxone#sublingual-film-2-mg-0-5-mg

Suboxone Sublingual Film from https://www.suboxone.com/hcp/savings-card

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