Generic Name: fentanyl injection
Brand Names: Sublimaze
On January 27, 2014, The New York Times reported 22 deaths in Pennsylvania linked to a dangerous batch of heroin. The overdose deaths were most likely caused by a mix of heroin and fentanyl, an extremely dangerous and potentially lethal combination for users.
The February 2, 2014 death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from drug overdose has highlighted the growing problem of addicts purchasing contaminated heroin. Some officials fear that efforts to drive down abuse of prescription medications could be contributing to rising heroin use.
What is fentanyl injection?
Fentanyl is a narcotic (opioid) analgesic. It works in the brain and nervous system to cause anesthesia and decrease pain.
Fentanyl is used for producing anesthesia for surgery and treating pain before, during and after surgery.
It is very important that you are monitored closely by your doctor when receiving fentanyl injection. This will allow your doctor to determine whether it is working properly and if you should continue to receive treatment.
Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have bluish lips or skin; chest pain; difficulty with breathing; a fast, pounding or irregular heartbeat or pulse; shortness of breath; or muscle stiffness after receiving fentanyl.
MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICATION CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.
Before using fentanyl injection
You should not use fentanyl injection if you are allergic to it.
Do not use fentanyl if you take sibutramine (Meridia) or sodium oxybate (GHB)
To make sure fentanyl injection is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- any type of breathing problem or lung disease such as COPD or asthma;
- a history of head injury, brain tumor, or increased pressure in the brain;
- slow heartbeats or other heart rhythm disorder;
- seizures or epilepsy;
- mental illness such as depression, hallucinations;
- blood pressure problems;
- liver or kidney disease;
- poor health or nutrition;
- fever; or
- a history of drug or alcohol addiction.
Fentanyl is more likely to cause breathing problems in older adults and people who are severely ill, malnourished, or otherwise debilitated.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether fentanyl will harm an unborn baby. Fentanyl may cause breathing problems, behavior changes, or life-threatening addiction and withdrawal symptoms in your newborn if you use the medication during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
See also: Pregnancy and breastfeeding warnings (in more detail)
Fentanyl may also cause addiction and withdrawal symptoms in a nursing infant. You should not breast-feed while you are using fentanyl injection.
How should I use fentanyl injection?
A doctor, nurse or other trained health professional will administer fentanyl injection. It is given as a shot into a muscle or vein.
Fentanyl may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICATION CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Selling or giving away fentanyl to any other person is against the law.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not freeze. Keep the medicine in its original package until you are ready to administer your dose. Fentanyl injection contained in vials or ampules should be disposed of by flushing as recommended to reduce the danger of accidental overdose causing death. This advice applies to a very small number of medicines only. The FDA, working with the manufacturer, has determined this method to be the most appropriate route of disposal and presents the least risk to human safety.
Keep this medicine out of the reach of children or pets.
Do not used fentanyl injection if it contains particles or is discolored, or if the vial/ampule is cracked or damaged in any way.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. A fentanyl overdose can be fatal, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription. Overdose symptoms may include slow breathing and heart rate, severe drowsiness, muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, and fainting.
What precautions should I take while using fentanyl injection?
This medication may impair your thinking or reactions. Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how fentanyl will affect you. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.
Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with fentanyl.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with fentanyl and lead to unwanted side effects. Avoid the use of grapefruit products while using this medicine.
Fentanyl injection side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to fentanyl: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Seek medical advice at once if you have:
- slow heart rate, weak or shallow breathing, severe drowsiness;
- a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
- pale skin, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating; or
- if you feel very thirsty or hot, are unable to urinate, and have heavy sweating or hot and dry skin.
Common fentanyl side effects may include:
- nausea, vomiting, constipation;
- mild dizziness, feeling weak or tired;
- dry mouth;
- headache; or
- swelling in your hands or feet.
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.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect fentanyl injection?
Taking this medicine with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous or life-threatening side effects. Ask your doctor using taking fentanyl injection with a sleeping pill, other pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.
You should not take this medicine if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.
Many other medicines can increase the risk of serious breathing problems when used with fentanyl. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with fentanyl injection, especially:
- macrolide antibiotics --clarithromycin, erythromycin, rifampin, telithromycin;
- azole antifungal medications--fluconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, and others;
- heart medications--diltiazem, verapamil, amiodarone, and others; or
- HIV/AIDS medications--ritonavir, saquinavir, and others.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with fentanyl, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
More about fentanyl
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about fentanyl injection.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use fentanyl only for the indication prescribed.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Drugs.com medicine 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. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects.
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