Pain Home > Respiratory Depression With Fentanyl

Fentanyl (Abstral®, Actiq®, Duragesic®, Fentora®, Lazanda®, Onsolis®, Subsys®) is an active ingredient in many medications licensed for pain relief. Although it is generally an effective pain medication if used properly, fentanyl products do pose certain risks.
It's important to note that certain problems can develop in people taking this medication. For example, fentanyl can cause life-threatening breathing problems (called "respiratory depression"). People who have respiratory depression may take slow and shallow breaths or deep breaths separated by long pauses. Certain people may have an increased risk for respiratory depression with fentanyl, including:
  • Older adults
  • People who already have breathing difficulties
  • People who are not tolerant to opioids.
(For more information on respiratory depression with fentanyl, click Precautions and Warnings With Fentanyl. This article offers more detailed drug warnings relating to things like allergic reactions, serious side effects, and more.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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