fentanyl 800 mcg lozenge on a handle

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Medication name

Generic name:
Fentanyl lozenge - buccal

Pronunciation
(FEN-ta-nil)

Brand name(s)
Actiq

Warning

See also Uses section.

Fentanyl has a risk for abuse and addiction, which can lead to overdose and death. Fentanyl may also cause severe, possibly fatal, breathing problems. Do not use fentanyl lozenges unless you have been regularly taking moderate to large amounts of opioid pain medication. Otherwise, it may cause overdose (even death). To lower your risk, your doctor should have you use the smallest dose of fentanyl that works, and use it for the shortest possible time. See also How to Use section for more information about addiction.

The risk for severe breathing problems is higher when you start this medication and after a dose increase, or if you use the wrong dose/strength. Using this medication with alcohol or other drugs that can cause drowsiness or breathing problems may cause very serious side effects, including death. Be sure you know how to use fentanyl and what other drugs you should avoid using with it. See also Drug Interactions section. Get medical help right away if any of these very serious side effects occur: slow/shallow breathing, unusual lightheadedness, severe drowsiness/dizziness, difficulty waking up.

Carefully follow the specific directions for using fentanyl lozenges. Since they are not taken the same way, different forms of fentanyl (including lozenges, buccal tablets, patches) do not have the same effects at equal strengths and should not be substituted for each other. Tell your doctor or pharmacist of all medications that you use, especially of drugs that can affect how fentanyl works. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines you are using without your doctor's approval.

Keep this medicine in a safe place to prevent theft, misuse, or abuse. Properly throw away all opened units of this drug. If someone accidentally swallows this drug, get medical help right away.

Because of the risk of misuse, abuse, and overdose, you will need to register with a special distribution program before receiving your prescription. Only doctors and pharmacies enrolled in this program may prescribe or dispense this medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for details.

Before using this medication, women of childbearing age should talk with their doctor(s) about the risks and benefits. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant. During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may slightly increase the risk of birth defects if used during the first two months of pregnancy. Also, using it for a long time or in high doses near the expected delivery date may harm the unborn baby. To lessen the risk, use the smallest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Babies born to mothers who use this drug for a long time may develop severe (possibly fatal) withdrawal symptoms. Tell the doctor right away if you notice any symptoms in your newborn baby such as crying that doesn't stop, slow/shallow breathing, irritability, shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, poor feeding, or difficulty gaining weight.

Uses

This medication is used to help relieve sudden (breakthrough) cancer pain in people who are regularly taking moderate to large amounts of opioid pain medication. Fentanyl belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid (narcotic) analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.

This medication should not be used to relieve mild or short-term pain (such as due to headache/migraine, dental procedures, surgery).

How to use

Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using fentanyl and each time you get a refill. Learn all usage and disposal instructions. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

A Child Safety Kit is available from the manufacturer. It contains important safety and educational materials and a safe storage container to keep this medication out of reach of children. If you have any questions about the materials in this kit, bring them to your doctor or pharmacist, or contact the manufacturer.

Use fentanyl lozenges as directed by your doctor. Just before using, open the package with scissors. Remove the lozenge and place the medication end in your mouth between your cheeks and gums. Actively suck on the medication. Twirl the handle often and move the medication along the cheeks in your mouth, occasionally switching sides of the mouth. You should finish the medication in 15 minutes to get the most relief. Do not bite or chew the medication. You may drink some water before using this medication, but do not eat or drink anything while you are using it.

Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while using this medication unless your doctor or pharmacist says you may do so safely. Grapefruit can increase the chance of side effects with this medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

If you start to have side effects (such as dizziness, feeling sick to your stomach, severe drowsiness) before finishing a dose, your doctor may need to adjust your dose. Remove the rest of the lozenge from your mouth and store or dispose of it properly (see Medication Guide). Tell your doctor promptly if this happens.

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. If you need a second dose, wait 30 minutes after starting the first dose. Do not use more than 2 doses per episode of breakthrough pain. Wait at least 4 hours before using fentanyl lozenges again for another episode of breakthrough pain. To avoid any confusion and chance of overdose, you should only keep a supply of one strength of this medication. Do not increase your dose, take the medication more frequently, or take it for a longer time than prescribed.

Pain medications work best if they are used when the first signs of pain occur. If you wait until the pain has worsened, the medication may not work as well.

You should continue to also take your long-acting opioid medication as directed by your doctor. Other pain relievers (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen) may also be prescribed. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using fentanyl safely with other drugs.

Suddenly stopping this medication may cause withdrawal, especially if you have used it for a long time or in high doses. To prevent withdrawal, your doctor may lower your dose slowly. Tell your doctor or pharmacist right away if you have any withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, mental/mood changes (including anxiety, trouble sleeping, thoughts of suicide), watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, muscle aches, or sudden changes in behavior.

When this medication is used for a long time, it may not work as well. Talk with your doctor if this medication stops working well.

Though it helps many people, this medication may sometimes cause addiction. This risk may be higher if you have a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol). Use this medication exactly as prescribed to lower the risk of addiction. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

Tell your doctor if your pain does not get better or if it gets worse, or if you have more than 4 episodes of breakthrough pain daily, or if you need to use 2 units of medication for each episode of pain.

Side effects

See also Warning section.

Nausea, vomiting, constipation, lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, or headache may occur. Pain, sores, or irritation in the mouth (where the medication has been applied) may also occur. Some of these side effects may decrease after you have been using this medication for a while. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

To prevent constipation, eat dietary fiber, drink enough water, and exercise. You may also need to take a laxative. Ask your pharmacist which type of laxative is right for you.

To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:

  • mental/mood changes (such as agitation, confusion, hallucinations)
  • severe stomach/abdominal pain
  • difficulty urinating
  • signs of your adrenal glands not working well (such as loss of appetite, unusual tiredness, weight loss)

Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including:

  • fainting
  • seizure
  • slow/shallow breathing
  • severe drowsiness/difficulty waking up

This medication may increase serotonin and rarely cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. The risk increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin, so tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take (see Drug Interactions section). Get medical help right away if you develop some of the following symptoms:

  • fast heartbeat
  • hallucinations
  • loss of coordination
  • severe dizziness
  • severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • twitching muscles
  • unexplained fever
  • unusual agitation/restlessness

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:

  • rash
  • itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
  • severe dizziness
  • trouble breathing

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

In the US -

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Precautions

Before taking fentanyl, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:

  • brain disorders (such as head injury, tumor, seizures)
  • breathing problems (such as asthma, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD)
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • mental/mood disorders (such as confusion, depression)
  • personal or family history of a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol)
  • stomach/intestinal problems (such as blockage, constipation, diarrhea due to infection, paralytic ileus)
  • difficulty urinating (such as due to enlarged prostate)
  • gallbladder disease
  • disease of the pancreas (pancreatitis)

This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

This medication contains sugar and may increase your chance of developing cavities or gum problems. Tell your dentist that you are using this medication. Brush and floss your teeth daily and have regular dental exams.

There is sugar in this medication. If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar regularly as directed and share the results with your doctor.

Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, and slow/shallow breathing.

During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may harm an unborn baby. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. (See also Warning section.)

This drug passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Tell the doctor right away if your baby develops unusual sleepiness, difficulty feeding, or trouble breathing. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Drug interactions

See also Warning section.

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.

Some products that may interact with this drug include:

  • certain pain medications (mixed opioid agonist-antagonists such as pentazocine, nalbuphine, butorphanol)
  • naltrexone

Other medications can affect the removal of fentanyl from your body, which may affect how fentanyl works. Examples include cimetidine, nefazodone, azole antifungals including itraconazole/ketoconazole, calcium channel blockers such as diltiazem/verapamil, HIV drugs such as nelfinavir/ritonavir, macrolide antibiotics including erythromycin, rifamycins including rifampin, certain anti-seizure medicines including carbamazepine, among others.

Taking MAO inhibitors with this medication may cause a serious (possibly fatal) drug interaction. Avoid taking MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue, moclobemide, phenelzine, procarbazine, rasagiline, safinamide, selegiline, tranylcypromine) during treatment with this medication. Most MAO inhibitors should also not be taken for two weeks before treatment with this medication. Ask your doctor when to start or stop taking this medication.

The risk of serious side effects (such as slow/shallow breathing, severe drowsiness/dizziness) may be increased if this medication is used with other products that may also cause drowsiness or breathing problems. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products such as other opioid pain or cough relievers (such as codeine, hydrocodone), alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, lorazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants (such as carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine), or antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine).

Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.

The risk of serotonin syndrome/toxicity increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin. Some examples are street drugs such as MDMA/ "ecstasy," St. John's wort, certain antidepressants (such as SSRIs like fluoxetine/paroxetine, SNRIs like duloxetine/venlafaxine), among others. The risk of serotonin syndrome/toxicity may be more likely when you start or increase the dose of these drugs.

This medication may interfere with certain laboratory tests (including amylase/lipase levels), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.

Overdose

If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, give them naloxone if available, then call 911. If the person is awake and has no symptoms, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: slow breathing, slow heartbeat, coma.

Notes

Do not share this medication with others. Sharing it is against the law.

This medication has been prescribed for your current condition only. Do not use it later for another condition unless told to do so by your doctor. A different medication may be necessary in that case.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should have naloxone available to treat opioid overdose. Teach your family or household members about the signs of an opioid overdose and how to treat it.

Missed dose

Not applicable.

Storage

Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not refrigerate or freeze. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets. See also Warning and How to Use sections.

Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. For more details, read the Medication Guide, or consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.

Important note

HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION: This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.

Information last revised April 2019.

Selected from NATIONAL DRUG DATA FILE (NDDF) data included with permission and copyrighted by First Databank, Inc., 2019. This copyrighted material has been downloaded from a licensed data provider.

The above information is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your health care professional. You should consult your health care professional before taking any drug, changing your diet, or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.