Dosing Adjustments in Postpartum Patients Maintained on Buprenorphine or Methadone

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Scant scientific attention has been given to examining the need for agonist medication dose changes in the postpartum period. Study objectives were: 1) to determine the need for medication dose adjustments in participants stabilized on buprenorphine or methadone 3 weeks before and 4 weeks after delivery, and 2) to evaluate the need for methadone dose adjustments during the first 7 days in participants transferred from buprenorphine to methadone at 5 weeks postpartum. Participants were opioid-dependent pregnant women who had completed a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, flexible dosing comparison of buprenorphine to methadone. Participants received a stable dose of methadone (N = 10) or buprenorphine (N = 8) before and 4 weeks after delivery. Buprenorphine-maintained participants were transferred to methadone at 5 weeks postpartum. There were no significant differences predelivery and/or postdelivery between the buprenorphine and methadone conditions in the mean ratings of dose adequacy, “liking,” “hooked,” and “craving” of heroin or cocaine. Patient response to the conversion from buprenorphine to methadone seems variable. Buprenorphine-maintained participants required dose changes postpartum only after they transferred to methadone. Regardless of type of medication, postpartum patients should be monitored for signs of overmedication.

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