Numerous drug tests are available for the detection of Buprenorphine and Norbuprenorphine in the body. Buprenorphine is not tested via the standard SAMHSA-5 screening and more advanced tests are needed to detect the components of Subutex. Some of the tests that can be utilized for this purpose include urine tests, blood tests, hair tests and salivary tests.
Buprenorphine does not metabolize into morphine that is why it cannot be detected on the standard SAMHSA-5 screening tests. However, extensive urinalysis can detect the drug levels in the urine. The minimum identifiable value of Buprenorphine is 5 ng/mL. People abusing Subutex over long durations have demonstrated a level of over 160 ng/ml in their urine samples. The liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) provides the more accurate results of Buprenorphine levels in the urine samples.
Urine tests are the preferred type of drug tests since they are non-invasive and they provide a long window of detection. Buprenorphine becomes detectable in urine within 40 minutes and remains so for up to 2 weeks after the final dose. The chronic users will display more amount of the drug in their samples compared to the short-term users.
The blood samples are collected from the users for the detection of Subutex and its metabolites. Due to the invasive nature of the blood tests, they are considered as inconvenient and are not utilized on the routine basis. Following the drug administration, the drug content becomes detectable in blood within minutes and stays so for up to a week. The drug is easy to detect when the peak concentrations are reached, which occurs in about 40 minutes-3.5 hours of drug use. The trace amounts of drug have been detected for weeks after the last dose. The high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (HPLC/MS) technique can pinpoint even the minute amounts of Buprenorphine in the blood stream. Norbuprenorphine stays for the long duration so the metabolite can be preferred for testing over Buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine gets accumulated in the hair follicles of long term users so hair tests are another option for the detection of the drug and its metabolites. The only problem is that the drug takes some time for accumulation in hair. The major advantage also comes here; the drug remains detectable for quite a long duration after the last dose. In most cases, it remains detectable for up to 3 months. The research studies confirmed the presence of 105.2pg/mg Buprenorphine and 156.8 pg/mg Norbuprenorphine in the hair follicles of chronic users of drug.
The color and length of hair follicles can influence the results of the hair tests. The proximal segments retain the greatest amount of drug and brown or black color gives more accurate results.
The oral fluid sampling is another useful technique to detect Subutex. Samples of oral fluid are collected and sent to the laboratory for the analysis. As the route of administration is sublingual, test results are more accurate and yield similar results as the blood samples. The drug remains detectable for about or even longer in case of chronic users. A rapid detection is made as the drug diffuses into the salivary fluid. In the future, many more advancements in salivary testing are expected that will increase the utility of salivary tests. Intoxicated patients can also be checked by the collection of salivary samples.