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Fentanyl Transdermal System (marketed as Duragesic and generics)

Audience: Pain management specialists, other healthcare professionals

[Posted 12/21/2007] FDA issued an update that highlights important information on appropriate prescribing, dose selection, and the safe use of the fentanyl transdermal system (patch). FDA previously issued a Public Health Advisory and Information for Healthcare Professionals in July 2005 regarding the appropriate and safe use of the transdermal system. However, the Agency continues to receive reports of death and life-threatening adverse events related to fentanyl overdose that have occurred when the fentanyl patch was used to treat pain in opioid-naive patients and when opioid-tolerant patients have applied more patches than prescribed, changed the patch too frequently, and exposed the patch to a heat source. The fentanyl patch is only indicated for use in patients with persistent, moderate to severe chronic pain who have been taking a regular, daily, around-the-clock narcotic pain medicine for longer than a week and are considered to be opioid-tolerant.

Patients must avoid exposing the patch to excessive heat as this promotes the release of fentanyl from the patch and increases the absorption of fentanyl through the skin which can result in fatal overdose. Directions for prescribing and using the fentanyl patch must be followed exactly to prevent death or other serious side effects from fentanyl overdose.

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