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Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid medication primarily used to manage severe pain, particularly in cases where other opioid painkillers have proven ineffective. However, there are significant risks associated with taking Fentanyl:

  • High Potency: Fentanyl is approximately 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and much more potent than heroin. Even small doses can lead to overdose and death, especially if someone without opioid tolerance takes it.
  • Respiratory Depression: Like other opioids, Fentanyl can slow down breathing to dangerous levels, potentially leading to respiratory arrest and death.
  • Addiction and Dependence: Fentanyl has a high potential for addiction and dependence, even when taken as prescribed. Continued use can lead to physical and psychological dependence, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect.
  • Overdose: Due to its potency, Fentanyl overdose is a significant concern. Symptoms of overdose include slowed or stopped breathing, unconsciousness, and death.
  • Withdrawal: Suddenly stopping or reducing Fentanyl use can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, anxiety, and insomnia.
  • Tolerance: Over time, individuals may develop tolerance to Fentanyl, requiring higher doses to achieve the same pain-relieving effects. This increases the risk of overdose and other complications.
  • Drug Interactions: Fentanyl can interact with other medications, including benzodiazepines and alcohol, increasing the risk of respiratory depression, overdose, and death.
  • Misuse and Diversion: Fentanyl can be diverted for non-medical use. Misuse, such as crushing and snorting or injecting the drug, greatly increases the risk of overdose and other adverse effects.
  • Accidental Exposure: Accidental exposure to Fentanyl, particularly in children, can lead to serious harm or death. Even small amounts absorbed through the skin or accidentally ingested can be lethal.
  • Legal and Illicit Availability: While Fentanyl is available by prescription, there is also a significant risk of obtaining it illegally through illicit drug markets, where its potency and variability can greatly increase the risk of overdose and death.

Due to these risks, Fentanyl should only be used under close medical supervision and as prescribed by a healthcare professional. It is crucial to follow dosing instructions carefully and to store Fentanyl securely to prevent accidental exposure or misuse.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Fentanyl is primarily prescribed for the management of severe pain, typically in cases where other pain medications are not effective or appropriate. It is often used in situations such as:

  • Chronic pain management: Fentanyl may be prescribed for individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions such as cancer pain or severe back pain.
  • Pain control during surgery: Fentanyl is sometimes administered before and during surgical procedures to provide anesthesia and pain relief.
  • Pain relief in emergency situations: Fentanyl may be used in emergency settings, such as in the management of severe trauma or during cardiac emergencies, to provide rapid and potent pain relief.

Fentanyl is a potent opioid analgesic, meaning it acts on the body’s opioid receptors to alleviate pain. It is available in various formulations, including transdermal patches, lozenges, injections, and oral formulations, allowing for flexibility in dosing and administration depending on the patient’s needs and the clinical situation. However, it’s worth noting that due to its potency, Fentanyl carries a high risk of addiction, abuse, and overdose, and it is typically reserved for use in cases of severe pain under close medical supervision.

How should this medicine be used?

Here are some guidelines for the proper use of Fentanyl:

  • Dosage: Fentanyl should be prescribed at the lowest effective dosage for the shortest duration possible to minimize the risk of addiction, tolerance, and overdose.
  • Administration: Fentanyl comes as a lozenge on a handle (Actiq), a sublingual (underneath the tongue) tablet (Abstral), a film (Onsolis), and a buccal (between the gum and cheek) tablet (Fentora) to dissolve in the mouth. Fentanyl is used as needed to treat breakthrough pain but not more often than four times a day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand.
  • Frequency: Fentanyl are typically taken every 8 to 12 hours, as directed by a healthcare provider. Patients should follow the prescribed dosing schedule carefully and not take more medication than prescribed.
  • Titration: Dosage adjustments may be necessary to achieve adequate pain relief while minimizing side effects. Healthcare providers may adjust the dosage of Fentanyl based on the patient’s response to treatment and individual needs.
  • Monitoring: Patients taking Fentanyl should be closely monitored for signs of respiratory depression, sedation, and other adverse effects. Healthcare providers may periodically reassess the need for continued opioid therapy and adjust treatment as needed.
  • Discontinuation: When discontinuing Fentanyl, the dosage should be gradually tapered under the guidance of a healthcare provider to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
  • Storage: Fentanyl should be stored securely out of reach of children and pets, as accidental exposure can be fatal. They should be kept in their original packaging and stored at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

It’s essential for patients to communicate openly with their healthcare providers about their pain management needs, any concerns or side effects experienced while taking Fentanyl, and any other medications or supplements they are taking to avoid potential drug interactions.

Other uses for this medicine

Fensolvi (leuprolide acetate) is primarily used for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. However, it may also be prescribed for other medical conditions, including:

  • Endometriosis: Fensolvi may be used to manage endometriosis, a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing pain and other symptoms.
  • Uterine fibroids: Fensolvi may be used to treat uterine fibroids, which are noncancerous growths of the uterus that can cause symptoms such as pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and pressure on the bladder or bowel.
  • Central precocious puberty: Fensolvi may be used to treat central precocious puberty in children, a condition where puberty starts at an abnormally early age.

What special precautions should I follow?

Special precautions should be followed when using Fentanyl to minimize the risk of adverse effects and ensure safe and effective treatment:

  • Patient Education: Patients should receive thorough education about the risks and benefits of Fentanyl, including proper use, potential side effects, and the risk of addiction, overdose, and respiratory depression.
  • Medical History: Healthcare providers should obtain a comprehensive medical history, including any history of substance abuse, respiratory disorders, or other medical conditions that may increase the risk of complications with Fentanyl use.
  • Dosage Adjustment: Dosage adjustments may be necessary in patients with hepatic impairment, renal impairment, or other conditions that may affect drug metabolism and excretion.
  • Drug Interactions: Healthcare providers should review the patient’s current medications, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal supplements, to identify potential drug interactions that may affect the safety and efficacy of Fentanyl.
  • Respiratory Monitoring: Patients should be closely monitored for signs of respiratory depression, especially during initiation of therapy and dosage adjustments. Healthcare providers should be prepared to intervene promptly in the event of respiratory depression.
  • Avoid Alcohol and CNS Depressants: Patients should be advised to avoid alcohol and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants while taking Fentanyl, as concurrent use can increase the risk of respiratory depression and overdose.
  • Pregnancy and Lactation: Fentanyl should be used with caution in pregnant or breastfeeding women, and the potential risks and benefits should be carefully weighed before initiating treatment.
  • Storage and Disposal: Fentanyl should be stored securely out of reach of children and pets and disposed of properly when no longer needed or expired to prevent accidental exposure and misuse.

It’s essential for patients to follow their healthcare provider’s instructions carefully and communicate any concerns or adverse effects experienced while taking Fentanyl. Close monitoring and regular follow-up appointments are critical to ensure safe and effective pain management.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Regarding dietary instructions, there are no specific dietary restrictions associated with Fentanyl. However, it’s important to maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated while taking any medication to support overall health and well-being.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you forget to take a dose of Fentanyl  take it as soon as you remember unless it is close to the time for your next scheduled dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one, as this can increase the risk of overdose and other adverse effects. If you’re unsure about what to do, consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for guidance.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Fentanyl  like other opioid medications, can cause a range of side effects. Common side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness: Fentanyl can cause drowsiness or sedation, which may impair your ability to perform tasks that require alertness, such as driving or operating machinery.
  • Constipation: Opioids, including Fentanyl, commonly cause constipation. Increasing fluid intake, dietary fiber, and physical activity can help alleviate this side effect.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Some individuals may experience nausea or vomiting while taking Fentanyl. Taking the medication with food or adjusting the dosage may help reduce these symptoms.
  • Dizziness: Fentanyl can cause dizziness or lightheadedness, particularly when standing up from a sitting or lying position. Moving slowly and avoiding sudden changes in position can help minimize this side effect.
  • Headache: Headaches may occur as a side effect of Fentanyl use. Over-the-counter pain relievers may help alleviate this symptom, but consult with your healthcare provider before taking additional medications.
  • Itching: Some individuals may experience itching or skin irritation while taking Fentanyl. Avoid scratching the skin, as it can lead to skin damage or infection.
  • Dry Mouth: Fentanyl can cause dry mouth, which may be alleviated by increasing fluid intake or using sugar-free lozenges or gum.
  • Sweating: Excessive sweating, particularly night sweats, may occur as a side effect of Fentanyl use.
  • Respiratory Depression: In rare cases, Fentanyl can cause respiratory depression, characterized by slowed or shallow breathing. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience difficulty breathing or chest tightness.
  • Hypotension: Fentanyl may cause low blood pressure, leading to symptoms such as dizziness or fainting. It’s important to stand up slowly from a lying or sitting position to minimize the risk of falls.
  • Confusion or Cognitive Impairment: Some individuals may experience confusion, cognitive impairment, or difficulty concentrating while taking Fentanyl.
  • Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction: Long-term use of Fentanyl can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction, particularly if used in higher doses or for extended periods.

It’s essential to discuss any side effects or concerns with your healthcare provider. Additionally, seek medical attention if you experience severe or persistent side effects while taking Fentanyl.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Storage and disposal of Fentanyl are critical aspects of medication safety:

  • Storage: Keep Fentanyl in their original packaging and store them securely out of reach of children and pets. Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Avoid storing Fentanyl in the bathroom or kitchen where they may be exposed to moisture.
  • Disposal: Dispose of unused or expired Fentanyl properly according to local regulations or guidelines. Do not flush medications down the toilet unless instructed to do so. Instead, consider using a medication take-back program or a drug disposal pouch to safely dispose of Fentanyl. If a take-back program is not available, mix the with an undesirable substance (e.g., coffee grounds or cat litter) in a sealed plastic bag and discard in the household trash.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of emergency or overdose involving Fentanyl, take the following steps:

  • Seek Immediate Medical Attention: If you suspect an overdose or experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, extreme drowsiness, loss of consciousness, or unresponsiveness, call emergency services (e.g., 911) immediately. Prompt medical intervention is critical in cases of Fentanyl overdose.
  • Administer Naloxone (Narcan): If available, administer naloxone, an opioid antagonist used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. Naloxone can be administered via injection or nasal spray. Follow the instructions provided with the naloxone kit and seek emergency medical attention even after administering naloxone.
  • Stay with the Person: If someone has overdosed on Fentanyl, stay with them until emergency medical help arrives. Monitor their breathing and provide reassurance and support.

What other information should I know?

  • Risk of Respiratory Depression: Fentanyl can cause respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening. Use caution when taking Fentanyl, particularly if you have respiratory disorders or are taking other medications that depress the central nervous system.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Sedatives: Avoid alcohol and other sedatives while taking Fentanyl, as they can increase the risk of respiratory depression and other serious side effects.
  • Follow Prescribed Dosage: Take Fentanyl exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not increase the dosage or frequency without consulting your doctor, as this can increase the risk of overdose and other adverse effects.
  • Regular Follow-Up: Attend regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor your response to Fentanyl therapy, discuss any side effects or concerns, and adjust treatment as needed.
  • Avoid Crushing or Breaking: Fentanyl should be swallowed whole with water and should not be crushed, chewed, or broken, as this can lead to a potentially fatal overdose.

By following proper storage and disposal procedures, being aware of the signs of overdose, and seeking immediate medical attention in emergencies, you can help ensure the safe and effective use of Fentanyl.

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