Fentanyl transdermal patches are used to relieve severe pain in people who are expected to need pain medication around the clock for a long time and who cannot be treated with other medications. Fentanyl is in a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics. It works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain.
Side Effects Of Fentanyl Transdermal Patch
Fentanyl transdermal patches may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- mood changes
- feeling cold
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- pain, burning, tingling, or numbness in the hands or feet
- dry mouth
- stomach pain
- back pain
- difficulty urinating
- skin irritation, redness, itching, or swelling in the area where you wore the patch
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- changes in heartbeat
- agitation, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist), fever, sweating, confusion, fast heartbeat, shivering, severe muscle stiffness or twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, or dizziness
- inability to get or keep an erection
- irregular menstruation
- decreased sexual desire
- chest pain
- swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, tongue, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
Fentanyl transdermal patches may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are using fentanyl patches.
Warnings & Precautions
Before using fentanyl transdermal patches:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to fentanyl, or any other medications, or any of the ingredients in fentanyl patches. Ask your doctor or pharmacist or check the Medication Guide for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention the medications listed in the WARNING and any of the following medications: antidepressants; antihistamines (found in cough, cold, and allergy medications); buprenorphine (Buprenex, Subutex, in Suboxone); butorphanol; dextromethorphan (found in many cough medications; in Nuedexta); lithium (Lithobid); medications for migraine headaches such as almotriptan (Axert), eletriptan (Relpax), frovatriptan (Frova), naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), sumatriptan (Alsuma, Imitrex, in Treximet), and zolmitriptan (Zomig); mirtazapine (Remeron); nalbuphine; pentazocine (Talwin); sedatives; 5HT3 serotonin blockers such as alosetron (Lotronex), dolasetron (Anzemet), granisetron (Kytril), ondansetron (Zofran, Zuplenz), or palonosetron (Aloxi); selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, in Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Brisdelle, Prozac, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft); serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as desvenlafaxine (Khedezla, Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), milnacipran (Savella), and venlafaxine (Effexor);trazodone (Oleptro); or tricyclic antidepressants (‘mood elevators’) such as amitriptyline, clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Silenor), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine (Surmontil). Also, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking or receiving the following medications or have stopped taking them within the past 2 weeks: monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors including isocarboxazid (Marplan), linezolid (Zyvox), methylene blue, phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), and tranylcypromine (Parnate). Many other medications may also interact with fentanyl, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John’s wort and tryptophan.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had paralytic ileus (a condition in which digested food does not move through the intestines). Your doctor may tell you not to use fentanyl patches.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had seizures; slowed heartbeat; difficulty urinating; low blood pressure; or thyroid, heart, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, or kidney disease.
- tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding.
- you should know that this medication may decrease fertility in men and women. Talk to your doctor about the risks of using fentanyl transdermal patch.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using fentanyl patches.
- you should know that this medication may make you drowsy. Do not drive a car, operate machinery, or do other possibly dangerous activities until you know how this medication affects you.
- you should know that fentanyl transdermal patches may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. This is more common when you first start using fentanyl patches. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
- you should know that fentanyl patches may cause constipation. Talk to your doctor about changing your diet or using other medications to prevent or treat constipation while you are using fentanyl patches.
Dosage Of Fentanyl Transdermal Patch
Transdermal fentanyl comes as a patch to apply to the skin. The patch is usually applied to the skin once every 72 hours. Change your patch at about the same time of day every time you change it. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Apply fentanyl patches exactly as directed.
Your doctor may start you on a low-dose fentanyl transdermal patch and gradually increase your dose, not more often than once every 3 days at first, and then not more often than once every 6 days. Your doctor may decrease your dose if you experience side effects. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling during your treatment with fentanyl patches.
Fentanyl patches are only for use on the skin. Do not place patches in your mouth or chew or swallow the patches.
Do not stop using fentanyl patches without talking to your doctor. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually. If you suddenly stop using fentanyl patches you may have symptoms of withdrawal. Call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms of withdrawal: restlessness, teary eyes, runny nose, yawning, sweating, chills, muscle pain, large pupils (black circles in the center of the eyes), irritability, anxiety, backache, pain in the joints, weakness, stomach cramps, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fast heartbeat, or rapid breathing.
Do not use a fentanyl patch that is cut, damaged, or changed in any way. If you use cut or damaged patches, you may receive most or all of the medication at once, instead of slowly over 3 days. This may cause serious problems, including overdose and death.
You may bathe, swim, or shower while you are wearing a fentanyl patch. If the patch falls off during these activities, dispose of it properly. Then dry your skin completely and apply a new patch. Leave the new patch in place for 72 hours after you apply it.
You can apply a fentanyl transdermal patch to your chest, back, upper arms, or the sides of your waist. If you are applying the patch to a child or to a person who is unable to think clearly, choose an area on the upper back to make it more difficult for the person to remove the patch and place it in his or her mouth. Choose an area of skin that is flat and hairless. Do not apply the patch to parts of the body that move a lot or to skin that has been exposed to radiation or that is sensitive, very oily, broken out, irritated, broken, cut, or damaged. If there is hair on the skin, use scissors to clip the hair as close to the skin as possible. Do not shave the area.
To apply the patch, follow these steps:
- Clean the area where you plan to apply the patch with clear water and pat completely dry. Do not use any soaps, lotions, alcohols, or oils.
- Tear open the pouch containing the fentanyl transdermal patch along the dotted line, starting at the slit. Remove the patch from the pouch and peel off both parts of the protective liner from the back of the patch. Try not to touch the sticky side of the patch.
- Immediately press the sticky side of the patch onto the chosen area of skin with the palm of your hand.
- Press the patch firmly for at least 30 seconds. Be sure that the patch sticks well to your skin, especially around the edges.
- If the patch does not stick well or comes loose after it is applied, tape the edges to your skin with first aid tape. If the patch still does not stick well, you may cover it with Bioclusive or Tegaderm brand see-through dressings. Do not cover the patch with any other type of bandage or tape.
- If a patch falls off before it is time to remove it, dispose of the patch properly and apply a new patch. Leave the new patch in place for 72 hours.
- When you are finished applying the patch, wash your hands with water right away.
- When it is time to change your patch, peel off the old patch and apply a new patch to a different skin area.
- After you remove your patch, fold it in half with the sticky sides together and flush it down a toilet.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your body’s response to fentanyl transdermal patches.
Before having any laboratory test (especially those that involve methylene blue), tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are using fentanyl.
This prescription is not refillable. Be sure to schedule appointments with your doctor on a regular basis so that you do not run out of medication if your doctor wants you to continue using fentanyl patches.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
All information on fentanyl transdermal patches has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.