Fentanyl Patch


In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for fentanyl patch, trade name DuragesicTM.

What it’s for & How to take

Fentanyl is used to treat moderate to severe ongoing pain. This medication is an opiate, and it works in the brain to block how the body recognizes pain.

Fentanyl patch is normally used on a regular schedule rather than as needed. Usually, the patch is changed every 72 hours. When you apply your patch, select a dry, non-hairy and flat part of your body. Do not apply the patch on a burn, scratch or other irritated parts of your skin. You may clean the skin with water; however, do not use soap because the patch may not stick as well. After you apply the patch, hold it down for 30 seconds to make sure it sticks.

When you apply your first patch of fentanyl, it may take between 8-24 hours before you feel the full effect of the medication. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about how you should manage your pain during this time.

Remove the old patch before applying the new patch. Place the new patch on a different location to decrease skin irritation. When you remove the old patch, fold it together and put it in a container before placing it in the garbage. This will help prevent a child or animal from accidentally getting it.

Wash your hands well after handling the patch. If the patch is not sticking well, use some tape to hold down the edges or call your pharmacist to ask them how to keep the patch on. If the patch comes off before the next patch is due, apply another patch to a different location. Let your doctor or pharmacist know if your patches are not staying on.

Your doctor may prescribe a short-acting pain medication to be taken with your fentanyl patch. This medication will be used for sudden or sharp pain that flares up during certain times of the day.

Tell your doctor if your pain is not getting better. Your dose is based on your current condition and may need to be changed as your condition changes. Do not stop taking this medication suddenly because you may feel uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as muscle aches, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. Your doctor may decrease your dose over a time to decrease withdrawal symptoms.

Most Important Warnings

  • Fentanyl patch is only for moderate to severe pain when around the clock pain control is needed and other narcotic medications are not working.
  • If this medication is used on a patient not used to taking narcotics, they may stop breathing. Serious or fatal cases have happened even with the regular dose.
  • This medication has an increased risk of abuse, addiction, and theft. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has a history of substance abuse. Store this medication in a safe place to prevent theft.
  • Fentanyl may interact with other specific medications and cause serious side effects including death. Tell your doctor and pharmacist all of your other medications before starting fentanyl patch.
  • Accidental exposure, especially in children, can result in fatal overdose. Handle and dispose of patches correctly.
  • When pregnant mothers use this medication, the unborn child is at risk. The newborn may need prolonged withdrawal treatment.
  • Avoid heat exposure to fentanyl patch such as heating pads, electric blankets, hot tubs, hot baths, sun lamp or sunbathing. The medication level will rise very quickly with heat. Patients with a fever should be monitored for signs of overdose.
  • Combining this medication with anxiety medications, such as diazepam or alprazolam, may cause extreme sleepiness, significant breathing difficulties, coma, and death.

Other Warnings & Cautions

  • Rarely, this medication may cause a drug seeking or addictive behavior. This risk is increased if you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse. If you follow the directions on the label and stay in good communication with your doctor and pharmacist, then the chances for addiction are lower.
  • The elderly may be more sensitive to the side effects of this medication, especially the drowsiness, dizziness, constipation and urinary problems.
  • Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages while using fentanyl patch.
  • Infants born to mothers who are using fentanyl patch are at risk. This medication should only be used during pregnancy when the benefit to the mother is greater than the risk to the unborn baby.
  • Fentanyl passes into breast milk. Breastfeeding is not recommended while using this medication.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if fentanyl patch is safe for you to use.
  • Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
  • Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have a slow bowel, chronic constipation, seizures, slow heartbeat, trouble urinating, low blood pressure, a family history of substance abuse or any other disease you have a history of.
  • While using fentanyl patch, you may feel some nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness or constipation. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
  • Constipation may be a problem when this medication is used. Talk with your pharmacist about what would work best for you to keep your bowels moving.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have any heartbeat changes, hallucinations, seizure, loss of coordination or any other significant side effects.
  • Call emergency 911 if you have any difficulty breathing.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20