Test Catalog

Test ID: BUPS    
Buprenorphine Screen, Random, Urine

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Screening for drug abuse or use of buprenorphine

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Clinically, buprenorphine is utilized as a substitution therapy for opioid dependence and as an analgesic. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist of the mu-opioid receptor. These mu binding sites are discretely distributed in the human brain, spinal cord, and other tissue. The clinical effects of mu receptor agonists are sedation, euphoria, respiratory depression, and analgesia. As a partial mu receptor agonist, buprenorphine's clinical effects are decreased, giving buprenorphine a wider safety margin.(1) Buprenorphine has a prolonged duration of activity. The combination of decreased clinical effects and prolonged activity gives buprenorphine the added advantage of a delayed and decreased withdrawal syndrome, compared to other opioids. Compared to morphine, buprenorphine is 25 to 40 times more potent.(1) As with any opioid, abuse is always a concern. To reduce illicit use of buprenorphine, it is available mixed with naloxone in a ratio of 4:1. When the combination is taken as prescribed, only small amounts of naloxone will be absorbed. However, if the combination is transformed into the injectable form, naloxone then acts as an opioid receptor antagonist.


Buprenorphine is metabolized through N-dealkylation to norbuprenorphine through cytochrome P450 3A4. Both parent and metabolite then undergo glucuronidation. Norbuprenorphine is an active metabolite possessing one fifth of the potency of its parent. The glucuronide metabolites are inactive.(1)


This procedure uses immunoassay reagents that are designed to produce a negative result when no drugs are present in a natural (ie, unadulterated) specimen of urine; the assay is designed to have a high true-negative rate. Like all immunoassays, it can have a false-positive due to cross-reactivity with natural chemicals and drugs other than those they were designed to detect. The immunoassay also can have a false-negative due to the antibody’s ability to cross-react with different drugs in the target class.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.


Screening cutoff concentration:

Buprenorphine: 5 ng/mL

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

This assay only provides a preliminary analytical test result. A more specific alternative method (ie, liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry: LC-MS/MS) must be used to obtain a confirmed analytical result.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Care should be taken when interpreting results since there are many factors (eg, fluid intake and other biologic factors) that may influence a urine test result. It is possible that substances other than those investigated in the specificity study may interfere with the test and cause false-positive or false-negative results.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Elkader A, Spuroule B: Buprenorphine clinical pharmacokinetics in the treatment of opioid dependence. Clin Pharmacokinet 2005;44(7):661-680