Fentanyl patches may be habit forming, especially with prolonged use. Use the fentanyl patch exactly as directed. Do not apply more patches, apply the patches more often, or use the patches in a different way than prescribed by your doctor. While using fentanyl patches, discuss with your health care provider your pain treatment goals, length of treatment, and other ways to manage your pain. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family drinks or has ever drunk large amounts of alcohol, uses or has ever used street drugs, or has overused prescription medications, or if you have or have ever had depression or another mental illness. There is a greater risk that you will overuse fentanyl patches if you have or have ever had any of these conditions. Talk to your health care provider immediately and ask for guidance if you think that you have an opioid addiction or call the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
Fentanyl patches may cause serious or life-threatening breathing problems, especially during the first 24 to 72 hours of your treatment and any time your dose is increased. Your doctor will monitor you carefully during your treatment. Because of this serious risk, fentanyl patches should only be used to treat people who are tolerant (used to the effects of the medication) to opioid medications because they have taken this type of medication for at least one week and should not be used to treat mild or moderate pain, short-term pain, pain after an operation or medical or dental procedure, or pain that can be controlled by medication that is taken as needed. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had slowed breathing or asthma. Your doctor will probably tell you not to use fentanyl patches. Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; a group of diseases that affect the lungs and airways), a head injury, or any condition that increases the amount of pressure in your brain. The risk that you will develop breathing problems may be higher if you are an older adult or are weak or malnourished due to disease. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment: slowed breathing, long pauses between breaths, or shortness of breath.
Taking certain medications with fentanyl may increase the risk of serious or life-threatening breathing problems, sedation, or coma. Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or plan to take any of the following medications: amiodarone (Nexterone, Pacerone); aprepitant (Emend); benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Diastat, Valium), estazolam, flurazepam, lorazepam (Ativan), oxazepam, temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion);carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Epitol, Equetro, Tegretol, Teril); certain antifungals such as fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Onmel, Sporanox), and ketoconazole (Nizoral); clarithromycin (Biaxin, in Prevpac); diltiazem (Cardizem, Cartia, Diltzac, Taztia); erythromycin (E-Mycin, Erythrocin); fosamprenavir (Lexiva); medications for mental illness and nausea; other medications for pain; muscle relaxants; nefazodone; nelfinavir (Viracept); phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek); rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, in Rifamate, in Rifater); ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra); sedatives; sleeping pills; tranquilizers; troleandomycin (TAO) (not available in the United States); and verapamil (Calan, Covera, Verelan). Your doctor may need to change the dosages of your medications and will monitor you carefully. If you use fentanyl with any of these medications and you develop any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical care immediately: unusual dizziness, lightheadedness, extreme sleepiness, slowed or difficult breathing, or unresponsiveness. Be sure that your caregiver or family members know which symptoms may be serious so they can call the doctor or emergency medical care if you are unable to seek treatment on your own. If you use fentanyl with any of these medications and you develop any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical care: unusual dizziness, lightheadedness, extreme sleepiness, slowed or difficult breathing, or unresponsiveness. Be sure that your caregiver or family members know which symptoms may be serious so they can call the doctor or emergency medical care if you are unable to seek treatment on your own.
Drinking alcohol, taking prescription or nonprescription medications that contain alcohol, or using street drugs during your treatment with fentanyl increases the risk that you will experience these serious, life-threatening side effects. Do not drink alcohol, take prescription or nonprescription medications that contain alcohol, or use street drugs during your treatment.
Do not allow anyone else to use your medication. Fentanyl patches may harm or cause death to other adults and children who use them. Store fentanyl patches in a safe place so that no one else can use them accidentally or on purpose. Be especially careful to keep fentanyl patches out of the reach of children. Keep track of how many patches are left so you will know if any are missing.
People who are not being treated with fentanyl patches may be seriously harmed or may die if the sticky side of a patch touches their skin. Be careful not to allow the sticky side of the patch to touch anyone else's skin. If you are holding or caring for children, make sure that they do not touch your patch. If the patch accidentally comes off of your body and sticks to another person's skin, immediately remove the patch, wash the area with clear water, and get emergency medical attention.
Fentanyl patches that have been worn for 3 days still contain enough medication to cause serious harm or death to adults or children who are not being treated with the medication. Never throw used or unused patches in a trash can or leave them in a place where they may be found by others, especially children. Dispose of used and unwanted patches properly according to instructions. (See STORAGE and DISPOSAL.)
If your fentanyl patch is exposed to extreme heat, it may release too much medication into your body at once. This can cause serious or life-threatening symptoms. Do not expose your patch or the skin around it to direct heat such as heating pads, electric blankets, heat lamps, saunas, hot tubs, and heated water beds. Do not take long, hot baths or sunbathe while you are wearing the patch. Your patch may also release too much medication if you have a fever or if you get very hot after physical activity. Avoid physical activity that might cause you to get very hot. Call your doctor right away if you have a fever. Your doctor may need to adjust your dose.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you use fentanyl patches regularly during your pregnancy, your baby may experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms after birth. Tell your baby's doctor right away if your baby experiences any of the following symptoms: irritability, hyperactivity, abnormal sleep, high-pitched cry, uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body, vomiting, diarrhea, or failure to gain weight.
Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer's patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with fentanyl patches and each time you fill your prescription. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website ( Web Site) or the manufacturer's website to obtain the Medication Guide.
Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication.
Fentanyl patches are used to relieve severe pain in people who are expected to need pain medication around the clock for a long time and who cannot be treated with other medications. Fentanyl is in a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics. It works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain.
Transdermal fentanyl comes as a patch to apply to the skin. The patch is usually applied to the skin once every 72 hours. Change your patch at about the same time of day every time you change it. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Apply fentanyl patches exactly as directed.
Your doctor may start you on a low dose fentanyl patch and gradually increase your dose, not more often than once every 3 days at first, and then not more often than once every 6 days. Your doctor may decrease your dose if you experience side effects. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling during your treatment with fentanyl patches.
Fentanyl patches are only for use on the skin. Do not place patches in your mouth or chew or swallow the patches.
Do not stop using fentanyl patches without talking to your doctor. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually. If you suddenly stop using fentanyl patches you may have symptoms of withdrawal. Call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms of withdrawal: restlessness, teary eyes, runny nose, yawning, sweating, chills, muscle pain, large pupils (black circles in the center of the eyes), irritability, anxiety, backache, pain in the joints, weakness, stomach cramps, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fast heartbeat, or rapid breathing.
Do not use a fentanyl patch that is cut, damaged, or changed in any way. If you use cut or damaged patches, you may receive most or all of the medication at once, instead of slowly over 3 days. This may cause serious problems, including overdose and death.
You may bathe, swim, or shower while you are wearing a fentanyl patch. If the patch falls off during these activities, dispose of it properly. Then dry your skin completely and apply a new patch. Leave the new patch in place for 72 hours after you apply it.
You can apply a fentanyl patch to your chest, back, upper arms, or the sides of your waist. If you are applying the patch to a child or to a person who is unable to think clearly, choose an area on the upper back to make it more difficult for the person to remove the patch and place it in his or her mouth. Choose an area of skin that is flat and hairless. Do not apply the patch to parts of the body that move a lot or to skin that has been exposed to radiation or that is sensitive, very oily, broken out, irritated, broken, cut or damaged. If there is hair on the skin, use scissors to clip the hair as close to the skin as possible. Do not shave the area.
To apply the patch, follow these steps:
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before using fentanyl patches,
Talk to your doctor about eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while using this medication.
If you forget to apply or change a fentanyl patch, apply the patch as soon as you remember it. Be sure to remove your used patch before applying a new patch. Wear the new patch for the period of time prescribed by your doctor (usually 3 days) and then replace it. Do not wear two patches at once unless your doctor has told you that you should.
Fentanyl patches may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
Fentanyl patches may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are using fentanyl patches.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site ) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
Store the fentanyl patches at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
You must immediately dispose of any used or unused patches that are outdated or no longer needed through a medicine take-back program. If you do not have a take-back program nearby or one that you can access promptly, then throw away any patches by first carefully removing the adhesive backing, folding the sticky sides of each patch together so that it sticks to itself, and then flushing the folded patches down the toilet. Dispose of the pouches and protective liners in the trash. Wash your hands well with water after throwing away fentanyl patches. Do not put unneeded or used fentanyl patches in a garbage can.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. Web Site
In case of overdose, remove the fentanyl patch from the victim's skin and call local emergency services at 911.
While you are using fentanyl patches, you may be told to always have a rescue medication called naloxone available (e.g., home, office). Naloxone is used to reverse the life-threatening effects of an overdose. It works by blocking the effects of opiates to relieve dangerous symptoms caused by high levels of opiates in the blood. You will probably be unable to treat yourself if you experience an opiate overdose. You should make sure that your family members, caregivers, or the people who spend time with you know how to tell if you are experiencing an overdose, how to use naloxone, and what to do until emergency medical help arrives. Your doctor or pharmacist will show you and your family members how to use the medication. Ask your pharmacist for the instructions or visit the manufacturer's website to get the instructions. If someone sees that you are experiencing symptoms of an overdose, he or she should give you your first dose of naloxone, call 911 immediately, and stay with you and watch you closely until emergency medical help arrives. Your symptoms may return within a few minutes after you receive naloxone. If your symptoms return, the person should give you another dose of naloxone. Additional doses may be given every 2 to 3 minutes, if symptoms return before medical help arrives.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
Keep all appointments with your doctor and laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your body's response to fentanyl.
Before having any laboratory test (especially those that involve methylene blue), tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are using fentanyl.
This prescription is not refillable. Be sure to schedule appointments with your doctor on a regular basis so that you do not run out of medication if your doctor wants you to continue using fentanyl patches.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Selected Revisions: October 15, 2019.