Prescribed in the treatment of severe, chronic pain, fentanyl is an opioid medication that is more than 80 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl should only be taken when and as prescribed.
Fentanyl Pain Patch Recall Update 7/23/12: Healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is now recalling more than 53,000 Duragesic pain patches due to problems where crystals of fentanyl may have formed in some of the patches. Fentanyl is a potent painkiller approximately 100 times more powerful than morphine, and its accumulation into crystals in the patch has the potential to lead to overdoses and other adverse events.
What’s the problem?
The strength of fentanyl, as well as its addictive properties, has led the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to classify the medication as a “Schedule II” drug. Fentanyl comes in various forms, including:
- fentanyl transdermal skin patches
- injections (which usually are delivered intravenously via an IV)
- lollipops (which may also be known as fentanyl citrate or the brand name Actiq)
Different forms of fentanyl will come in varying doses. For example, the fentanyl patch is offered in five different doses, including:
- 12.5 micrograms/hour (µg/h)
- 25 µg/h
- 50 µg/h
- 75 µg/h
- 100 µg/h
Alternately, fentanyl lollipops come in six different doses, which are differentiated by uniquely colored boxes and plastic handles. Fentanyl lollipop doses include:
- 200 micrograms (mcg) in gray
- 400 mcg in blue
- 600 mcg in orange
- 800 mcg in purple
- 1200 mcg in green
- 1600 mcg in burgundy
Should serious fentanyl side effects develop (or should mild side effects significantly disrupt a patient’s life), affected individuals should seek immediate medical attention to prevent further health problems.