Fentanyl is a potent painkiller. It’s an opioid, meaning that it is a synthetic form of natural opiates, which are derived from the opium poppy. Morphine and codeine are natural opiates. Fentanyl is about 80 times as strong as morphine.
It is usually used during surgeries, and in Intensive Care Units for chronic severe pain management. A fentanyl patch releases fentanyl into the body fat, from where it is slowly released into the bloodstream over about 72 hours.
Fentanyl is the generic name for this drug, and it is sold under this name by Sandoz. It’s also manufactured and sold as Duragesic by PriCara, which is a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
On Tuesday, February 12, 2008, the patches were recalled because of a flaw that could have caused an overdose. With such a powerful drug, any overdose could be fatal. In a patch, the drug is stored in gel form in an internal reservoir. Some fentanyl patches were found to have a cut or tear in the lining of this reservoir through which the fentanyl could have leaked. You can see the cut when you open the foil pouch to take the patch out.
If you or someone you love has such a patch, it should not be handled, as the fentanyl could enter your system through skin contact. Instead, flush it down a toilet and if you have touched the drug, rinse your skin thoroughly without using soap.