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Fentanyl Injection

Generic Name: fentanyl (injection) (FEN ta nil). Brand Name: Sublimaze
Brand names of other fentanyl dosage forms include: Abstral (sublingual tablet), Actiq (lozenge or "lollipop"), Duragesic (transdermal patch), Fentora (buccal tablet), Ionsys (transdermal device), Lazanda (nasal spray) and Subsys (sublingual spray).

Medically reviewed on Nov 4, 2018

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an opioid medication. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic.

Fentanyl is used as part of anesthesia to help prevent pain after surgery or other medical procedure.

Important information

You should not be treated with this medicine if you are allergic to fentanyl or other narcotic pain medicines.

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 this medicine.

MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICATION CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive this medicine if you are allergic to fentanyl or other narcotic pain medicines.

Some medicines can interact with fentanyl and cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. Be sure your doctor knows if you also take medicine for depression, mental illness, Parkinson's disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting. Ask your doctor before making any changes in how or when you take your medications.

To make sure fentanyl is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • any type of breathing problem or lung disease;

  • history of head injury or brain tumor;

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • slow heartbeats;

  • if you use a sedative like Valium (diazepam, alprazolam, lorazepam, Ativan, Klonopin, Restoril, Tranxene, Versed, Xanax, and others); or

  • if you have used an MAO inhibitor (isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine) in the past 14 days.

It is not known whether fentanyl will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It is not known whether fentanyl passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How is fentanyl injection given?

Fentanyl is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and other vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving this medicine.

You may be given other pain medications to use after your treatment with this medicine is discontinued.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since fentanyl is given as needed by a healthcare professional for only a short time, you are not likely to be on a dosing schedule.

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid after receiving fentanyl?

Fentanyl can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. You should not plan on driving or doing anything that requires you to be awake and alert right after you are treated with this medication. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.

Avoid drinking alcohol for several hours after you receive fentanyl.

Fentanyl side effects

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

Like other opioid medications, fentanyl can slow or stop your breathing. If your breathing gets too weak, death may occur.

Your caregivers will watch for any side effects you have, which may clear up within minutes after stopping the infusion or decreasing the dose:

  • weak or shallow breathing;

  • fast or slow heart rate;

  • stiff muscles; or

  • severe weakness, feeling light-headed or fainting.

Common fentanyl side effects may include:

  • slowed breathing;

  • slow heart rate;

  • muscle stiffness;

  • dizziness, vision problems;

  • nausea, vomiting;

  • itching, sweating; or

  • high blood pressure (confusion, anxiety, pounding in your neck or ears).

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.

What other drugs will affect fentanyl?

Fentanyl can interact with many other drugs and cause dangerous side effects or death. Be sure your doctor knows if you also use:

  • other opioid medications or prescription cough medicines;

  • drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing - a sleeping pill, muscle relaxer, sedative, tranquilizer, or antipsychotic medicine; or

  • drugs that affect serotonin levels in your body - medicine for depression, Parkinson's disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting.

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.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use fentanyl injection only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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