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What Is Fentanyl Used For?

Special Programs

Because they have the potential to be misused, short-acting fentanyl products are only available through a special program known as the Transmucosal Immediate-Release Fentanyl (TIRF) Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program The purpose of the TIRF REMS program is to help reduce the risks associated with using fentanyl medications, including the risks of abuse, misuse, and overdose.
You, your healthcare provider, and the pharmacy that dispenses your medication must be enrolled in the TIRF REMS for you to receive the medication. The healthcare provider who prescribed your fentanyl product will help you enroll in this special program if necessary. You and your healthcare provider will not need to enroll in the program if you are receiving fentanyl in a hospital, hospice, or long-term care facility (although the pharmacy will still need to be registered).

How Does It Work?

Fentanyl binds to the opioid mu-receptors throughout the body, producing many different effects. Some of these effects, such as pain relief, are desirable; others, such as slowing down the digestive tract, are undesirable and lead to side effects such as constipation.
The effects of fentanyl include but are not limited to:
  • Pain relief
  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in mood, including feelings of unease (dysphoria) or unusually pleasant feelings (euphoria)
  • Cough suppression
  • Slowed or shallow breathing
  • Slowing of the digestive tract
  • Pupil constriction
  • Itching
  • Physical dependence.

Can Children Use Fentanyl?

The fentanyl patch is approved for use in children as young as two years of age. The fentanyl lozenge is approved for use in people 16 years of age and older. Other products are only approved for use in adults 18 years of age and older. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using a particular fentanyl product in children.
Fentanyl is a strong opioid medication. There have been reports of death in children who have accidentally taken this medication. Keep all fentanyl products in a safe place, out of the reach of children.
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