Buprenorphine accounts for most opioid-related pediatric hospital admissions, compared to other opioids. Buprenorphine is used to treat opioid dependence while still offering pain relief. Since 2010, several manufacturers have distributed their buprenorphine products in unit-dose packaging. Unit-dose packaging consists of a single dose of medicine contained in an individual packet.
A study in the June 2018 issue of Pediatrics, "Unit-Dose Packaging and Unintentional Buprenorphine-Naloxone Exposures," evaluates the impact of unit-dose packaging on unintentional childhood buprenorphine-naloxone poisonings. Researchers examined more than 6,000 children under age 6 experiencing accidental buprenorphine exposure. They divided the time frame for the study data into three groups: pre-unit-dose packaging era, conversion to unit-dose packaging and then the post unit-dose packaging era. Researchers found that 80 percent of manufacturers now use unit-dose packaging and that the packaging change resulted in a two-thirds reduction in buprenorphine exposure and poisonings in children.
The authors conclude that unit-dose packaging should be the standard packaging system to prevent accidental exposure to this product and other opioids.
Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org: