Common brand names:
This medication is used to help relieve severe ongoing pain (such as due to cancer). Fentanyl belongs to a class of drugs known as narcotic (opiate) analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.
Do not use the patch form of fentanyl to relieve pain that is mild or that will go away in a few days. This medication is not for occasional ("as needed") use.
How to Use This Medication
See also Warning section.
Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start using this medication and each time you get a refill. Learn how to properly use, store, and discard the patches. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Use this medication on a regular schedule as directed by your doctor, not as needed for sudden (breakthrough) pain.
Before you start using this medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should stop or change the dose of your other narcotic medication(s). It may take up to 24 hours before you have pain relief from fentanyl patches. For added pain relief, your doctor may direct you to also take quick-acting narcotic or non-narcotic pain medications (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen). Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about using fentanyl safely with other drugs.
Apply this medication to the skin as directed by your doctor. Do not apply on burns, cuts, irritated skin, or skin that has been exposed to radiation (x-ray treatment). Select a dry, non-hairy area on a flat part of your body, such as the chest, sides, back, or upper arms. In young children or in people unable to think clearly (such as due to dementia), apply the patch on the upper back to lessen the chance it might be removed or placed in the mouth. If there is hair on the skin, use scissors to clip the hair as close as possible to the skin. Do not shave hair since this might cause skin irritation. If needed, use water to clean the area. Do not use soap, oils, lotions, or alcohol on the application site. Dry the skin well before applying the patch.
The patch is usually changed every 72 hours. To avoid irritation, apply to a different area each time. Be sure to remove the old patch before applying a new patch. The used patch still contains enough fentanyl to cause serious harm, even kill a child or pet, so fold it in half with the sticky sides together and discard properly. Do not let children see you apply a patch, and do not apply the patch where children can see it. Children have found patches that have fallen off or removed patches on sleeping adults and put them in their mouths or on their bodies with fatal results. (See also Warning section).
Do not use the patch if it appears to be broken, cut, or damaged. Remove from the sealed pouch, peel off the protective liner, and apply right away to the skin. Press firmly in place with the palm of the hand for 30 seconds, making sure the contact is complete (especially around the edges). If your prescribed dose is for more than one patch, make sure the edges of the patches do not touch or overlap. Wash your hands after applying the patch.
If you have problems with the patch not sticking at the application site, you may tape the edges in place with first aid tape. If this problem persists, ask your doctor for advice. If the patch falls off before 72 hours, a new patch may be applied to a different skin site. Be sure to let your doctor know if this happens.
If you accidentally touch the sticky layer to your skin or handle a cut or damaged patch, wash the area well with clear water. If the patch comes off and accidentally sticks to the skin of another person, immediately remove the patch, wash the area with water, and get medical help for them right away. Do not use soap, alcohol, or other products to wash the area.
The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not apply more patches than directed, change them more frequently, or use them for a longer time than prescribed.
This medication may cause withdrawal reactions, especially if it has been used regularly for a long time or in high doses. In such cases, withdrawal symptoms (such as restlessness, watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, sweating, muscle aches) may occur if you suddenly stop using this medication. To prevent withdrawal reactions, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details, and report any withdrawal reactions right away.
When this medication is used for a long time, it may not work as well. Talk with your doctor if this medication stops working well.
Along with its benefits, this medication may rarely cause abnormal drug-seeking behavior (addiction). This risk may be increased if you have abused alcohol or drugs in the past. Use this medication exactly as prescribed to lessen the risk of addiction.
Tell your doctor if your pain persists or worsens.
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Information expires December 2017.