Fentanyl (Patch)

Medication Information Leaflet

What is this medication for?

This medication is used to treat severe pain. It belongs to a class of drugs known as opioids.

How should I take/use this medication?

  • Take your medication as prescribed by your healthcare professional. The patch should be changed every three days unless advised otherwise by your healthcare professional.
  • The patch should be applied to a non-hairy area of skin free from skin irritation on the upper body (chest, back, upper arm). If required hair should be removed with scissors. Prior to application the skin should be carefully washed with clean water and thoroughly dried.
  • The effect of this medication may reduce with time. If you find that this medication does not sufficiently alleviate your pain at the prescribed dose, please consult your healthcare professional.
  • Avoid exposure of the fentanyl application site to direct external heat sources such as heating pads, electric blankets, heated water beds, heat or tanning lamps, intensive sunbathing, hot water bottles, prolonged hot baths and saunas.
  • Do not cut the patch or apply a damaged patch as this may alter the release of the drug from the patch.
  • Apply an outer waterproof dressing on the patch to protect it from getting wet while you shower.

What should I do if I forget to take/use this medication?

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Then take your next dose at the usual time. Do not apply two doses to make up for the missed dose.

What precautions should I take?

Inform your healthcare professional if:

  • You are allergic to this medication or any of the other ingredients of this medication (including soya and peanuts which may be in the patch). This includes a history of allergy to other related drugs including other opioid drugs such as morphine, oxycodone and codeine.
  • You are taking any other medications, including supplements, traditional medications and herbal remedies.
  • You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • You have a history of fits. This drug may increase the risk of having a fit.
  • You have a history of constipation or obstructive bowel disease.
  • You have a history of lung disease including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

What are some common side-effects of this medication?

  • Fentanyl may cause constipation, nausea and vomiting.
  • This medication may cause drowsiness or dizziness which may impair physical or mental abilities. If affected, please do not drive, operate machinery or perform other tasks which require mental alertness.
  • This medication has the potential to cause addiction. If you experience difficulty stopping this medication when it is no longer required, please consult your healthcare professional.
  • It may cause application site rashes or itchiness.

What are some rare but serious side-effects that I need to seek medical advice immediately?

The symptoms of a drug allergy include one or more of the following:

  • Swollen face/eyes/lips/tongue
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Itchy skin rashes over your whole body

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop your medication and see your healthcare professional immediately.

  • This medication may depress your breathing. Seek immediate medical attention should you experience breathing difficulty or problems.
  • This medication may cause a drop in blood pressure. Seek immediate medical attention should you experience fainting, dizziness or light-headedness or blurred vision.

What food or medication should I avoid when I take this medication?

  • Fentanyl can generally be used with most other foods or medications. However, please inform your healthcare professionals if you are taking other medications or herbal preparations.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol may increase the risk of side effects with this medication.

How should I store this medication?

Store in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Keep this medication away from children.

How should I throw away this medication safely?

Significant quantities of fentanyl remain in the patch even after use. The used patch should be folded with the adhesive surface inwards, before being packed into a black trash bag, sealed tightly, before being thrown into a rubbish chute or bin.

If you take more than the recommended dose, please seek medical advice immediately. The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.

This article is jointly developed by members of the National Medication Information workgroup. The workgroup consists of cluster partners (National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth), community pharmacies (Guardian, Unity and Watsons) and Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore. The content does not reflect drug availability and supply information in pharmacies and healthcare institutions. You are advised to check with the respective institutions for such information.

Last reviewed on Jan 2021
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