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Fentanyl transdermal (skin patch)

Generic Name: fentanyl transdermal (skin patch) (FEN ta nil trans DERM al)
Brand Name: Duragesic-100, Duragesic-12, Duragesic-25, Duragesic-50, Duragesic-75

Medically reviewed on December 12, 2017

What is fentanyl transdermal skin patch?

Fentanyl is an opioid pain medication, sometimes called a narcotic.

The fentanyl skin patch is used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain around the clock. Fentanyl transdermal is not for treating mild or occasional pain or pain from surgery.

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

Important Information

Fentanyl can slow or stop your breathing, and may be habit-forming. MISUSE OF NARCOTIC MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.

Using this medicine during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn.

Fatal side effects can occur if you use this medicine with alcohol, or with other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

Before taking this medicine

Do not use a fentanyl skin patch if you are allergic to fentanyl, or if you have:

  • a severe breathing problem such as asthma attacks;

  • a blockage in your digestive tract (stomach or intestines); or

  • if you are NOT already being treated with a similar opioid (narcotic) pain medicine and are tolerant to it.

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

  • any type of breathing problem or lung disease;

  • a history of head injury, brain tumor, mental illness, alcoholism or drug addiction;

  • urination problems;

  • liver or kidney disease; or

  • problems with your gallbladder, pancreas, or thyroid.

Do not put a fentanyl skin patch on any child who does not have a personal prescription for fentanyl transdermal.

If you use fentanyl while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Fentanyl can pass into breast milk and may cause withdrawal symptoms in a nursing infant. Do not breast-feed while using fentanyl transdermal.

How should I use fentanyl transdermal skin patches?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Never use fentanyl in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain. Do not use a skin patch if it has been cut or damaged, or you could receive a fatal overdose of fentanyl.

Fentanyl may be habit-forming, and the transdermal skin patch contains a high concentration of this medicine. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away fentanyl is against the law.

MISUSE OF THIS MEDICINE CAN CAUSE HARMFUL SIDE EFFECTS OR DEATH, especially in a child who gets a hold of the skin patch and places it in the mouth or on the skin.

When placing a skin patch on a young child, choose a wearing area where the child cannot easily remove the patch unsupervised.

The skin patch is for use only on the skin. Do not allow the medicine to come into contact with your eyes, nose, mouth, or lips.

Keep both used and unused patches out of the reach of children or pets. Even the amount of fentanyl in a used skin patch could be fatal to a child or pet who accidentally sucks or chews on the patch. Seek emergency medical attention if this happens.

Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Apply the patch to clean, dry skin on the chest, back, side, or outer side of your upper arm. Wear the patch around the clock for 72 hours. Never wear more than 1 patch at a time unless your doctor has told you to. Remove and replace the patch after 72 hours. Apply the new patch to a different skin area on the chest, back, side, or upper arm.

Avoid sources of heat while you are wearing the patch. Do not use a heating pad or electric blanket, a waterbed heater, tanning bed or sauna. Do not sit in hot water, sunbathe, or raise your body temperature with vigorous activity. Heat can increase the amount of drug you absorb through your skin and may cause an overdose or death.

Store the patches at room temperature. Keep each patch in its foil pouch until you are ready to use it. Keep track of how many skin patches have been used from each new package. Fentanyl is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.

After removing a skin patch: fold it in half with the sticky side in, and flush the patch down the toilet right away. Do not place a used skin patch into a trash can.

Do not keep leftover opioid medication. Just one dose can cause death in someone using this medicine accidentally or improperly. Ask your pharmacist where to locate a drug take-back disposal program. If there is no take-back program, dispose of any unused skin patches in the same folded manner. Do not flush the foil pouch or patch liners; place them in a trash container out of the reach of children and pets.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you are using the skin patches on a schedule, 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.

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 heart rate, severe drowsiness, muscle weakness, cold and clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, very slow breathing, or coma.

What should I avoid while using a fentanyl transdermal patch?

Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how fentanyl will affect you. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls or other accidents.

Do not drink alcohol or dangerous side effects and death could occur. Check your food and medicine labels to be sure these products do not contain alcohol.

Avoid wearing a skin patch on a part of your body where a child could reach or remove the patch from your skin. Avoid allowing children to watch you put on a skin patch. Never tell a child that the fentanyl skin patch is a "bandage."

A fentanyl transdermal skin patch side effects

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

Like other narcotic medicines, fentanyl can slow your breathing. Death may occur if breathing becomes too weak.

Remove the skin patch and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • slow heart rate, sighing, weak or shallow breathing (up to several days after removing the skin patch);

  • chest pain, fast or pounding heartbeats; or

  • extreme drowsiness, feeling like you might pass out.

Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as: agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults and those who are overweight, malnourished, or debilitated.

Long-term use of opioid medication may affect fertility (ability to have children) in men or women. It is not known whether opioid effects on fertility are permanent.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation;

  • drowsiness, dizziness, tired feeling;

  • sleep problems (insomnia); or

  • increased sweating, or cold feeling.

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 transdermal?

Some drugs can raise or lower your blood levels of fentanyl, which may cause side effects or make fentanyl less effective. Tell your doctor if you also use certain antibiotics, antifungal medications, heart or blood pressure medications, or medicines to treat HIV or AIDS.

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

  • other narcotic medications--opioid pain medicine or prescription cough medicine;

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

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