Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Physicians only prescribe fentanyl-based drugs like Fentora in very specific situations. However, fentanyl lies at the forefront of the opioid crisis in the United States, with Fentora as one of the prescriptions addicts abuse. Since fentanyl has a concentration that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, it causes the most intense highs, as well as the most fatal side effects.
Fentora comes in the form of a buccal tablet, or a tablet dissolved between the cheek and gums. Its primary ingredient is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid with high potency. A doctor will only prescribe Fentora if the patient has both breakthrough pain related to cancer and a built-up tolerance to milder opioids. The patient must also be over 18. Doctors take these precautions because Fentora can cause so many adverse effects, including a lethal overdose.
Like other fentanyl medications, Fentora can cause side effects such as:
These adverse effects don’t have any cause for alarm if they don’t become long-lasting or severe. If they don’t go away or cause extreme discomfort, contact your doctor right away.
Regardless of length or severity, you should get medical attention immediately if you have symptoms like:
Patients must take great care when taking Fentora, carefully monitoring side effects and disposing of leftover medicine properly.
Every type of fentanyl, including Fentora, has a high risk of tolerance and dependency. It has more potency than heroin, making it one of the most dangerous opioids around. Fentanyl has great risks for patients without a built-up tolerance to opioids — let alone patients who have never taken opioids.
Fentora abuse often begins with subtle increases in tolerance and dependency. Eventually, the patient feels fewer benefits from the same dose and seeks more. Or, they may want to feel unintended effects like euphoria that come from large doses of opioids. These situations can lead to the patient not taking their medicine as prescribed, potentially causing addiction and other dangerous side effects.
In some cases, prescription fentanyl abuse can lead to abuse of non-pharmaceutical fentanyl (NPF). NPF is manufactured and sold illegally and often comes with traces of other drugs like heroin. Combining these substances makes the drug stronger, which also makes it much more dangerous than it already is. Illegal drug sellers can make nearly five times as much money selling NPF than they can heroin, making it popular on the market.
Doctors and patients resort to fentanyl treatment when no other drug will relieve the pain. The patient’s tolerance to the opioid medication they take becomes too high for it to work for breakthrough pain. But, what if the patient didn’t have to take as many opioids, letting them avoid this situation entirely? Medical marijuana can replace or supplement opioid painkillers, letting the patient get more relief with lower doses.
Cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) don’t make fentanyl side effects worse, so side effects actually lessen due to reduced fentanyl doses. Researchers found that CBD had no negative effects on patients taking intravenous fentanyl. This means patients can use a combination treatment to reduce their reliance on fentanyl for pain relief.
For more information on medical marijuana and addiction to drugs like Fentora, read our guide to cannabis medicine and opioid dependence.
Check out our resources on specific opiates and medical marijuana: