What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a narcotic (opioid) pain medicine.

The fentanyl skin patch is used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain.

Fentanyl transdermal may be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.


Do not use this medication unless you are already being treated with a similar opioid (narcotic) pain medicine and your body is tolerant to it. Opioid medicines include morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Oramorph, and others), oxycodone (Oxycontin), and hydromorphone (Dilaudid). Talk with your doctor if you are not sure you are opioid-tolerant.

Before using fentanyl, tell your doctor if you are allergic to fentanyl or any other medications, or if you have:

  • a breathing disorder such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
  • a history of head injury or brain tumor;
  • a heart rhythm disorder;
  • liver disease; or
  • kidney disease.

If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use this medication.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby, and could cause addiction or withdrawal symptoms in a newborn. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Fentanyl may also cause addiction and withdrawal symptoms in a nursing infant. Do not use fentanyl transdermal without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from this medicine.

Fentanyl may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. This medication should never be shared with another person, especially someone who has a history of drug abuse or addiction. Store the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

The fentanyl transdermal patch may burn your skin if you wear the patch during an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Remove the patch before undergoing such a test.

This medication is for use only on the skin. Avoid touching the sticky side of a skin patch with your fingers. Do not allow the medicine to come into contact with your eyes, nose, mouth, or lips. If it does, rinse with water. Do not use soap or other chemicals.

Fentanyl can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Avoid drinking alcohol, which can increase dizziness or drowsiness.

Tell your doctor if you regularly use other medicines that make you sleepy (such as cold medicine, other pain medicine, muscle relaxers, and medicine for depression or anxiety). They can add to extreme drowsiness or breathing problems caused by fentanyl.

Do not expose the skin patch to heat while you are wearing it. This includes a hot tub, heating pad, sauna, or heated water bed. Heat can increase the amount of drug you absorb through your skin and may cause harmful effects.

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Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine or if anyone has accidentally swallowed it. A fentanyl overdose can be fatal. Overdose symptoms may include slow breathing, extreme weakness or dizziness, pinpoint pupils, cold and clammy skin, or fainting.

Since fentanyl transdermal is used as needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are using the skin patches regularly, apply the missed patch as soon as you remember. Continue wearing the patch for up to 72 hours and then apply a new one if needed for pain. Do not wear extra patches to make up a missed dose.

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Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Remove the skin patch and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • weak, shallow breathing;
  • severe weakness, feeling light-headed or fainting;
  • cold, clammy skin; or
  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation, gas;
  • dizziness, drowsiness, anxiety, sleep problems (insomnia);
  • muscle stiffness, back pain;
  • itching, blistering, redness, or swelling where the patch was worn; or
  • increased sweating, urinating less than usual.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Before using this medication, tell your doctor if you are using any of the following drugs:

  • carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol);
  • phenytoin (Dilantin);
  • diltiazem (Cartia, Dilacor, Tiazac);
  • St. John's wort;
  • rifampin (Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane);
  • antibiotics such as clarithromycin (Biaxin), erythromycin (E-Mycin Ery-Tab, E.E.S.), itraconazole (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral), or troleandomycin (Tao); or
  • HIV medicines such as amprenavir (Agenerase), tipranavir (Aptivus), indinavir (Crixivan), saquinavir (Invirase), lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra), fosamprenavir (Lexiva), ritonavir (Norvir), atazanavir (Reyataz), or nelfinavir (Viracept).

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with fentanyl transdermal. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Other Names

Actiq, Duragesic, Duragesic-100, Duragesic-12, Duragesic-25, Duragesic-50, Duragesic-75, Fentora, Sublimaze, fentanyl, and Ionsys

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Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04

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