Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of a high concentration of buprenorphine (Simbadol) in conscious horses after subcutaneous administration

Harriet Flynn, Alessia Cenani, Robert J. Brosnan, Heather K. DiMaio Knych, Antonio J. de Araujo Aguiar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of high-concentration formulation of buprenorphine (1.8 mg mL–1; Simbadol) following subcutaneous (SC) administration in horses. Study design: Prospective, randomized, crossover trial. Animals: A group of six healthy adult horses weighing 521–602 kg. Methods: On three occasions, Simbadol (0.005 mg kg–1; treatment S5), (0.0025 mg kg–1; treatment S2.5) or saline (treatment SAL) were administered SC at least 7 days apart in random order. Electrical nociceptive threshold (ENT) measured on the neck region, physiologic variables, locomotor activity, degree of restlessness and presence of excitatory signs were measured at baseline and for up to 48 hours after injection. Blood was collected for pharmacokinetic analysis at the same time intervals and plasma buprenorphine concentration (Cp) measured using liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Results: Buprenorphine was quantifiable in all horses from 15 minutes after administration up to 8–12 hours. ENT was significantly increased in treatment S2.5 compared with treatment SAL at 0.75–6 hours after treatment. Increase in locomotor activity and compulsive behavior were recorded in all horses after Simbadol, and degree of restlessness was significantly higher in treatment S5 than SAL for a sustained time. Gastrointestinal motility significantly decreased in all horses after Simbadol and returned to baseline by 16 hours after treatment. Conclusions and clinical relevance: In horses, SC Simbadol was rapidly absorbed and Cp decreased rapidly. Side effects commonly seen in horses after opioids were observed in both Simbadol treatments, but degree of opioid-induced excitement lasted significantly longer in treatment S5. Simbadol (0.0025 mg kg–1) SC has the potential to be used clinically to treat pain in horses. However, at this dose, duration of antinociceptive effects was not longer than that reported for conventional buprenorphine, and side effects, including reduction in gastrointestinal motility and increased locomotor activity, were documented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-595
Number of pages11
JournalVeterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • analgesia
  • buprenorphine
  • electrical nociceptive threshold
  • equine
  • opioids
  • Simbadol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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