November 15, 2002


 Buprenorphine rescheduled under stricter regulatory control

Posted Nov. 1, 2002

Effective Oct. 7, 2002, the Drug Enforcement Administration has rescheduled buprenorphine from a schedule V narcotic to a schedule III narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act.

Buprenorphine is a long-acting analgesic often used postsurgically in veterinary medicine. The proposed action is aimed at discouraging illicit use of the drug.

On March 21, 2002, the DEA had published a proposed rule to reschedule the narcotic after receiving a recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services and then conducting its own review (see JAVMA, May 15, 2002, page 1442). Subsequently, the DEA received 10 comments but no requests for hearings.

Currently, little abuse of buprenorphine occurs in the United States because it is available only in low doses and only in an injectable form. Officials have concerns, however, because data suggest that the potential for abuse is high, especially if the drug becomes available in new forms.

This final action will impose the regulatory controls and criminal sanctions of a schedule III narcotic on persons who handle buprenorphine or products containing it. Those who divert the drug will now face much stiffer penalties.

Veterinarians' federal security and record-keeping obligations, however, will not change.

Visit for further information, or contact Frank Sapienza, Chief, Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, Drug Enforcement Administration, Washington, DC 20537; (202) 307-7183.