Opiates

Fentanyl

Chemical formula:

  • C22H28N2O∙ C6H8O7 – Fentanyl Citrate

FENTANYL(Duragesic®, E-TRANS® Fentanyl) is a powerful synthetic opiod stronger than Morphine. It is typically used to treat severe pain, to manage pain after surgery or to treat those suffering from chronic pain.

Fentanyl is also used for patients who express a great physical tolerance to opiates. Much like Heroin, opiods and other drugs, Fentanyl acts upon specific receptors in your brain and spinal cord to decrease the feeling of pain and to reduce your emotional response to pain.

Fentanyl comes in many forms such as a patch, lollypop and the traditional pill.One of the most potent opioid analgesics, Fentanyl is used to treat serious, chronic pain. This Schedule II controlled substance was introduced in the 1960’s as an intravenous anesthetic under the trade name Sublimaze.

Fentanyl Uses

In the mid 1990’s, the Duragesic Fentanyl patch was introduced to provide slow-release pain relief over a 48-72-hour period. Fentanyl also comes in lozenge form (Actiq), for fast-acting relief of breakthrough pain. Because Fentanyl, in all of its forms, can be habit-forming and has a high potential for abuse, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued public health alerts regarding its use.

The patch comes in five sizes, delivering between 12.5 and 100 micrograms per hour. The lozenges are berry- flavored lollipops that dissolve slowly in the mouth and are intended for opiate-tolerant users. It is available in six dosages, from 200-1600 micrograms.

Fentanyl Warnings

The FDA said the transdermal patch is “only intended for treating persistent, moderate to severe pain in patients who are opioid-tolerant, meaning those patients who take a regular, daily, around-the-clock narcotic pain medicine.” The agency received several reports of deaths and life-threatening side effects despite a July 2005 advisory that emphasized safe use. The FDA said some doctors prescribe the patch inappropriately for pain following surgery, headaches and occasional or mild pain.

Fentanyl has similar biological effects to that of heroin, but is thought to be a stronger sedative and much more powerful than street heroin. Some heroin dealers mix Fentanyl with low-grade heroin to add bulk and make it more potent.

A mix of Fentanyl, with either cocaine or heroin, has caused an outbreak of overdoses in different parts of the country. Regular users of Fentanyl may become addicted quickly. It is most often used orally but like heroin can be smoked, snorted or injected. On the black market, Fentanyl is most often sold in patch form. The patch can be cut up or eaten and the gel inside the patch can be smoked. The FDA says some patients use the patch incorrectly, by replacing it more frequently than prescribed or applying a heat source to the patch. This causes dangerously high levels of the drug in the bloodstream, it said.

Fentanyl Side Effects

Side effects include:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • dry mouth
  • confusion
  • sweating
  • abdominal pain
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • dizziness
  • hallucinations
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • flu-like symptoms.

In 2006, the FDA began investigating several respiratory deaths linked to Fentanyl use. The agency said the use of Fentanyl by those not tolerant to opiates is very dangerous and could lead to numerous deaths. Even those with a tolerance are at a risk of overdosing if the drug is used improperly, the agency said.

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