What should I know about Actiq before taking it?

Before taking Actiq (fentanyl), a quick-acting synthetic opiate for the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain, you should know what it does, how to get it, how to use it and how to dispose of it. Actiq is a powerful narcotic that should only be prescribed for cancer patients who are already on opiate-type narcotics for the treatment of their pain. It is a lozenge that comes on a stick—you hold it in your mouth between your cheek and gum so that it dissolves and goes into your mucus membranes. After a few minutes, you move it to another spot in your mouth. It should dissolve within 15 minutes. Because Actiq is a powerful narcotic with a potential for abuse, you’ll work with your doctor to find the right dose to treat your pain and then sign on to a special pharmacy program called TIRF REMS Access to get your daily allotment.

Tell your doctor if you have had breathing or lung problems, a head injury or brain, liver or kidney problems, seizures, a slow heart rate, low blood pressure, mental problems such as depression, a history of alcohol or drug abuse problems, diabetes or any other medical condition—or if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant or are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Actiq can be dangerous, even fatal, if children or other adults use it. That’s why you’ll be given special instructions on storing it and disposing of it, especially if you don’t finish a lozenge. You’ll get a medication guide that you should review carefully. Be aware that Actiq can have serious side effects, and know when you should tell your doctor about side effects—or if it is not relieving your pain adequately. You should know what medical conditions, and what other medications, may increase your risk of adverse side effects if you are taking Actiq. If you have any questions about your medical condition or about Actiq, talk with your doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.