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Papers of the Week

2022 Jan 06

J Gen Intern Med

Transition from Oxycodone to Buprenorphine/Naloxone in a Hospitalized Patient with Sickle Cell Disease: A Case Report.


Buprenorphine is increasingly used to treat pain in patients with sickle cell disease but optimal timing and approach for transitioning patients from full agonist opioids to buprenorphine is unknown. We present the case of a 22-year-old woman with sickle cell disease and acute on chronic pain who transitioned from high-dose oxycodone to buprenorphine/naloxone during a hospital stay for vaso-occlusive episode. Utilizing a microdosing approach to minimize pain and withdrawal, buprenorphine/naloxone was gradually uptitrated while she received full agonist opioids. During the transition, she experienced some withdrawal in the setting of swallowed buprenorphine/naloxone tablets, which were intended to be dosed sublingually. Nevertheless, the transition was tolerable to the patient and her pain and function significantly improved with buprenorphine treatment. This case also highlights the challenges and unique considerations that arise when providing care for the hospitalized patient who is also incarcerated.