Fentanyl is an opioid analgesic used in anesthesia, for breakthrough cancer pain, or for round-the-clock pain management. Fentanyl, a potent opioid agonist, was developed in the 1950s to fill a need for strong and rapid analgesia. Because of these characteristics, fentanyl is commonly used to treat chronic cancer pain or in anesthesia.
Fentanyl is related to other opioids like morphine and oxycodone. Fentanyl’s high potency has also made it a common adulterant in illicit drugs, especially heroin.8 In 2017, 47600 overdose deaths in the United States involved some opioid (over 2/3 of all overdose deaths).
Opioid overdoses kill an average of 11 Canadians daily. Fentanyl was FDA approved in 1968. Fentanyl is classified as Schedule II on the DEA drug list.
Fentanyl is a Schedule II which means it is . Other drugs like ‘Etorphine hydrochloride’, ‘Racemorphan’, ‘Dronabinol or ‘hydromorphone’ which are also classified as Schedule II by the DEA.
Fentanyl is a Small Molecule that is categorized for Approved, Illicit, Investigational, Vet approved but can be dangerous when used recreationally or misused.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is a class of drugs that are naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Some opioids are made from the plant directly, like heroin while others, like fentanyl, are made by scientists in labs using the same chemical structure (semi-synthetic or synthetic). That means that fentanyl is similar to morphine & heroin because it is in the same opiate category but it is different because it is not derived directly from the poppy plant, rather it is produced in a lab and is actually 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a prescription drug that is also made and used illegally.
The half-life of Fentanyl means the amount of time that stays in your system before it is fully absorbed. The half-life of Fentanyl is about 90 minutes, meaning that it is very quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and metabolized. Its onset of action is less than 60 seconds with a half-life of 90 minutes and a duration of action near 30–60 minutes. The peak effects of fentanyl occur is 2–5 minutes.
List of the main fentanyl brands:
The risk of adverse effects with Fentanyl can be increased when mixed with other drugs.
Fentanyl is an opioid analgesic used in anesthesia, for breakthrough cancer pain, or for round-the-clock pain management which is different from other painkillers because of how strong it is and fast acting. Many other painkillers like Percocet and Vicodin have time releases and do not have the immediate onset that comes from fentanyl.
Get confidential help 24/7. Call now for:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, June 30). Fentanyl drugfacts. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved December 20, 2022, from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl
DEA issues Carfentanil Warning to police and public. DEA. (2016). Retrieved December 20, 2022, from https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2016/09/22/dea-issues-carfentanil-warning-police-and-public#:~:text=Carfentanil%20is%20a%20synthetic%20opioid,times%20more%20potent%20than%20heroin.
Fentanyl. Uses, Interactions, Mechanism of Action | DrugBank Online. (2022). Retrieved December 20, 2022, from https://go.drugbank.com/drugs/DB00813
Gold, M. S., Melker, R. J., Dennis, D. M., Morey, T. E., Bajpai, L. K., Pomm, R., & Frost-Pineda, K. (2006). Fentanyl abuse and dependence. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 25(1), 15–21.
Phillips, T., Lenhart, S. & Strickland, W.C. A Data-Driven Mathematical Model of the Heroin and Fentanyl Epidemic in Tennessee. Bull Math Biol 83, 97 (2021).
U.S. National Library of Medicine. Fentanyl. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database. Retrieved December 20, 2022, from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Fentanyl
Volkow, N. D. (2021). The epidemic of fentanyl misuse and overdoses: Challenges and strategies. World Psychiatry, 20(2), 195–196.
Medical Advice Disclaimer
Magnified Health Systems aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.