Pain Home > Subsys

People who have cancer may receive Subsys to treat pain that breaks through around-the-clock pain medication. This prescription medicine is a strong narcotic painkiller and has a high potential for abuse. It comes in the form of a liquid that is sprayed under the tongue every four hours as needed. Possible side effects include nausea, constipation, and drowsiness.

What Is Subsys?

Subsys® (fentanyl sublingual spray) is a prescription opioid pain medication approved to manage breakthrough pain (intense flares of pain that "break through" regularly scheduled pain medication) in people with cancer who are already taking opioid pain medication around-the-clock for their persistent cancer pain. It comes in the form of a liquid that is sprayed under the tongue.
Like other fentanyl medications, Subsys is a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II controlled substances are considered to have the highest abuse potential of all prescription medications. As a controlled substance, there are strict laws and regulations controlling the use of this medication.
(Click Subsys Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Subsys is manufactured by Insys Therapeutics, Inc.

How Does Subsys Work?

Subsys contains fentanyl, a strong opioid narcotic medication. Fentanyl binds to opioid mu-receptors, which are located throughout the body. After fentanyl binds to the receptors, certain chemicals are released that produce a variety of effects.
Some of these effects, such as pain relief, are desirable. Others, such as slowing of the digestive tract, are undesirable and lead to side effects like 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.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
List of references (click here):
Other Articles in This eMedTV Presentation

Topics & Medications


Related Channels

eMedTV Links
Copyright © 2006-2020 Clinaero, Inc.

eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.