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Pronounced: door-uh-JEEZ-ic
Generic name: Fentanyl

Why is this drug prescribed: Duragesic patches deliver a continuous dose of the potent narcotic painkiller fentanyl for a period of three days. The patches are prescribed for chronic pain when short-acting narcotics and other types of painkillers fail to provide relief.

Most important fact about this drug: When wearing a Duragesic patch, check with your doctor before taking any other drugs that slow the nervous system. The combined effect can impair breathing, reduce blood pressure, and lead to coma. Drugs in this category include the following: Antipsychotic drugs such as Compazine, Mellaril, Stelazine, and Thorazine Muscle relaxants such as Flexeril, Robaxin, and Skelaxin Narcotic painkillers such as Demerol, Percodan, OxyContin, and Vicodin Sleep aids such as Ambien, Halcion, and Sonata Sleep-inducing antihistamines such as Benadryl and Phenergan Tranquilizers such as Ativan, Librium, Valium, and Xanax Alcoholic beverages

How should you take this medication: Apply the patch to a flat surface such as the chest, back, side, or upper arm. Hair at the site should be clipped (but not shaved). If the skin needs to be washed, use clear water. Do not use soaps, oils, lotions, alcohol, or any other cleanser that could irritate the skin. Allow the skin to dry completely. Apply the patch as soon as you open the sealed package. Do not cut or tear the patch. Press it firmly in place with the palm of your hand for 30 seconds. Make sure that contact with the skin is complete, especially around the edges. After 3 days (72 hours), remove the patch, fold the adhesive side together, and flush the patch down the toilet. --If you miss a dose... If needed, after a used patch is removed a fresh patch can be applied at a different site on the skin. --Storage instructions... Store below 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep out of reach of children. Unused patches should be removed from their package and flushed down the toilet.

What side effects may occur: Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe to continue using Duragesic. More common side effects may include: Abdominal pain, anxiety, confusion, constipation, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, exaggerated high spirits, hallucinations, headache, impaired or interrupted breathing, indigestion, itching, loss of appetite, nausea, nervousness, shortness of breath, sleepiness, sweating, urinary retention, vomiting, weakness Less common side effects may include: Abnormal gait, abnormal thinking, abnormal dreams, agitation, amnesia, chest pain, coughing up blood, fainting, gas, hiccups, irregular heartbeat, paranoia, poor coordination, rash, reactions at the application site, sore throat, speech disorders, tingling, tremor Rare side effects may include: Asthma and breathing disorders, bladder pain, bloated abdomen, blurred vision, depersonalization, diminished or frequent urination, failure to understand words, flaccid muscles, hostility, pustules and peeling skin, slow or rapid heartbeat, stupor, swelling, tense muscles, vertigo, vision loss in one eye, weight loss

Why should this drug not be prescribed: Duragesic should never be used in situations where the right dosage hasn't been established in advance--for instance, after an operation or an accident. It should not be used for mild or intermittent pain that responds to other painkillers. It should not be given to children under 12 or teenagers who weigh less than 110 pounds. It should also be avoided if it causes an allergic reaction.

Special warnings about this medication: Heat can increase the release of fentanyl from the Duragesic patch, thereby increasing the risk of impaired breathing and other side effects. Do not expose the patch to heating pads, electric blankets, heated water beds, heat lamps, saunas, hot tubs, or other external sources of heat. Alert your doctor if you develop a high fever (104 degrees Fahrenheit or more). Like other narcotic painkillers, Duragesic can impair your reactions. Do not drive or operate dangerous machinery until you are certain you can tolerate the drug. Extended use of Duragesic can lead to physical and psychological dependence, but may be necessary to control chronic pain. Your doctor will take this into account when prescribing this drug. If your breathing is already impaired by chronic pulmonary disease, Duragesic's tendency to reduce respiration can be especially dangerous. The doctor will determine your dosage with extra caution. Duragesic is not recommended for people with head injuries and other conditions that increase pressure on the brain, or for those who are semi-conscious or in a coma. It should be used with caution by people with brain tumors. Use Duragesic with caution if you have an irregular heartbeat; Duragesic can make the problem worse. Caution is also advised if you have kidney or liver disease.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking this medication: Remember to check with your doctor before taking any other drugs that slow the nervous system. (See "Most important fact about this drug.") The dose of such drugs should be reduced by at least half. Certain other drugs can increase the effects of Duragesic, triggering the need for a dosage reduction. They include: Antifungal medications such as Diflucan, Nizoral, and Sporanox HIV drugs classified as protease inhibitors, including Agenerase, Crixivan, Fortovase, Invirase, Kaletra, Norvir, and Viracept Macrolide antibiotics such as erythromycin, Biaxin, and Zithromax Some drugs may have the opposite impact, decreasing the effects of Duragesic. They include: Carbamazepine (Tegretol) Phenytoin (Dilantin) Rifampin (Rifadin)

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding: The effects of Duragesic during pregnancy have not been adequately studied. Make sure the doctor knows if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. The active ingredient fentanyl does make its way into breast milk; and Duragesic is not recommended for nursing women.

Recommended dosage: The Duragesic patch comes in four sizes: Duragesic-25, 50, 75, and 100. If you have not been taking a narcotic painkiller prior to Duragesic, the doctor will start with the smallest size. If this proves inadequate, the size will be increased after the first 3 days. If necessary, further increases can be made every 6 days thereafter. For people who are already taking a narcotic painkiller, the dosage of Duragesic is determined by the type of painkiller they've been using, its potency, and the size of the dose. Older adults and the debilitated generally receive a smaller dose of Duragesic. When Duragesic is to be discontinued, the doctor will reduce the dose gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Overdosage: An overdose of Duragesic can severely impair breathing. If you suspect an overdose, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

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