Pain Home > Subsys Overdose

If someone overdoses on Subsys (fentanyl sublingual spray), it can lead to life-threatening complications. Symptoms of an overdose with this medication can include seizures, confusion, and even death. Treatment for an overdose may involve pumping the stomach, using an antidote, or administering activated charcoal. If you believe you have taken an overdose, seek immediate medical care.

Can You Take Too Much Subsys?

Subsys® (fentanyl sublingual spray) is an opioid narcotic pain medication approved for the "as-needed" treatment of breakthrough cancer pain (pain that "breaks through" regularly scheduled pain medication). It is possible to take too much Subsys. In fact, an overdose of this medication can be quite dangerous.
 
The specific effects of an overdose can vary, depending on a number of factors, including the Subsys dosage and whether it was taken with any other medications or substances.
 

Symptoms of an Overdose

A Subsys overdose may cause the following symptoms:
 
  • Extreme drowsiness or sedation
  • Breathing problems, including slow and shallow breathing
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Confusion
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Small pupils
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Problems thinking, walking, or talking normally
  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • Death.
 
Be very careful about how you store and dispose of this medication. Even the small amount left in a used bottle can be enough to cause a lethal overdose, especially in a child or pet.
 

Treatment for a Subsys Overdose

Early treatment is very important. If the overdose was recent (and especially if it was swallowed), a healthcare provider may administer activated charcoal or "pump the stomach" to help reduce the amount of the medication that is absorbed into the bloodstream.
 
A narcotic antidote, such as naloxone (Narcan®), may be administered to help counteract the overdose effects. Because the effects of the overdose will likely last longer than the effects of the antidote, repeated antidote doses may be needed.
 
Treatment will also involve supportive care, which consists of treating symptoms that occur as a result of the overdose. For example, if breathing problems occur, oxygen treatment may be used. If breathing problems are severe, assistance with breathing (such as mechanical ventilation) may be needed.
 
It is very important that you seek medical attention immediately if you believe that you or someone else may have taken an overdose.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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