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What Kind of Drug is Fentanyl

Details about Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid. It was introduced into medical practice as an intravenous anesthetic under the trade name of Sublimaze in the 1960s. Fentanyl is a schedule II drug and is used to treat severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. Update: Recently (August 2016) Carfentanil also known as carfentanyl is being found in heroin causing many overdose deaths. Carfentanil is 100 times stronger than fentanyl and 10,000 time more potent than morphine. Marketed as Wildnil it is used as a general anesthetic agent for large animals. Paul Janssen along with a team of chemists from Janssen Pharmaceutica synthesized Carfentanil in 1974. Since Fentanyl is part of the opiate class, urine drug testing is the best method for detecting its presence.

Fentanyl Pharmacology

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine as an analgesic and 25-40 times more potent than heroin. It has a rapid onset and short duration of effects. Fentanyl rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is similar to other µ-opioid receptor agonists (like morphine or oxycodone) in its pharmacological effects and produces analgesia, sedation, respiratory depression, nausea, and vomiting. Unlike some µ-opioid receptor agonists, fentanyl does not cause histamine release and has minimal depressant effects on the heart.

Fentanyl Illegal Uses 

Fentanyl is abused for its intense euphoric effects. Fentanyl can serve as a direct substitute for heroin in opioid dependent individuals. However, fentanyl is a very dangerous substitute for heroin because it is much more potent than heroin and results in frequent overdoses that can lead to respiratory depression and death.

Fentanyl patches are abused by removing the gel contents from the patches and then injecting or ingesting these contents. Patches have also been frozen, cut into pieces and placed under the tongue or in the cheek cavity for drug absorption through the oral mucosa. Used patches are attractive to abusers as a large percentage of fentanyl remains in these patches even after a 3-day use.

Fentanyl oral transmucosal lozenges and fentanyl injectables are also diverted and abused. Abuse of fentanyl initially appeared in mid-1970s and has increased in recent years. There have been reports of deaths associated with abuse of fentanyl products.

What is Fentanyl Prescribed for?

Fentanyl pharmaceutical products are currently available in the dosage forms of oral transmucosal lozenges, commonly referred to as the fentanyl “lollipops” (Actiq®), effervescent buccal tablets (Fentora™), transdermal patches (Duragesic®), and injectable formulations. Oral transmucosal lozenges and effervescent buccal tablets are used for the management of breakthrough cancer pain in patients who are already receiving opioid medication for their underlying persistent pain.

Transdermal patches are used in the management of chronic pain in patients who require continuous opioid analgesia. Fentanyl citrate injections are administered intravenously, intramuscularly, spinally or epidurally for potent analgesia and anesthesia. Fentanyl is frequently used in anesthetic practice for patients undergoing heart surgery or for patients with poor heart function. Because of a concern about deaths and overdoses resulting from fentanyl transdermal patches (Duragesic® and generic version), on July 15, 2005, the Food and Drug Administration issued safety warnings and reiterated the importance of strict adherence to the guidelines for the proper use of these products. ©Copyright Expomed Inc.1995-2021

What Are the Side Effects of Fentanyl?

Side Effects of Fentanyl include: 

  • Weakness and fatigue.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Feelings of elation (euphoria).
  • Dry mouth.
  • Difficulty urinating.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Constipation, which may be severe.