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What Is Fentanyl?

If your healthcare provider has recommended a pain medication containing fentanyl (Abstral®, Actiq®, Duragesic®, Fentora®, Lazanda®, Onsolis®, Subsys®), you may be wondering what this medication is and whether it is an appropriate choice for your particular situation.
Fentanyl is an active ingredient found in many prescription pain medications. It is an opioid narcotic medication and should only be used in people who have already been using opioids. Fentanyl can cause potentially dangerous, and even fatal, complications in people who are not accustomed to opioid medications.
Fentanyl is available in long-acting and short-acting forms. Long-acting fentanyl comes as a skin patch and is used to treat moderate-to-severe chronic (long-lasting) pain. Short-acting fentanyl products are dissolved in the mouth or sprayed underneath the tongue or into the nostril for "as-needed" pain relief.
(For more information about what this pain medication is and how it works, click Fentanyl. This full-length article offers a complete overview of this medication, including details on possible side effects, safety precautions, and tips on safely using it.)
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