May 26, 2017
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Side Effects


The following serious adverse reactions are discussed elsewhere in the labeling:

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in clinical practice.

Clinical Trial Experience

The safety of DURAGESIC was evaluated in 216 patients who took at least one dose of DURAGESIC in a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of DURAGESIC. This trial examined patients over 40 years of age with severe pain induced by osteoarthritis of the hip or knee and who were in need of and waiting for joint replacement.

The most common adverse reactions ( ≥ 5%) in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in patients with severe pain were nausea, vomiting, somnolence, dizziness, insomnia, constipation, hyperhidrosis, fatigue, feeling cold, and anorexia. Other common adverse reactions ( ≥ 5%) reported in clinical trials in patients with chronic malignant or nonmalignant pain were headache and diarrhea. Adverse reactions reported for ≥ 1% of DURAGESIC-treated patients and with an incidence greater than placebo-treated patients are shown in Table 3.

The most common adverse reactions that were associated with discontinuation in patients with pain (causing discontinuation in ≥ 1% of patients) were depression, dizziness, somnolence, headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, hyperhidrosis, and fatigue.

Table 3: Adverse Reactions Reported by ≥ 1% of DURAGESIC-treated Patients and With an Incidence Greater Than Placebo-treated Patients in 1 Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial of DURAGESIC

System/Organ Class
Adverse Reaction
Placebo %
Cardiac disorders
Palpitations 4 1
Ear and labyrinth disorders
Vertigo 2 1
Gastrointestinal disorders
Nausea 41 17
Vomiting 26 3
Constipation 9 1
Abdominal pain upper 3 2
Dry mouth 2 0
General disorders and administration site conditions
Fatigue 6 3
Feeling cold 6 2
Malaise 4 1
Asthenia 2 0
Edema peripheral 1 1
Metabolism and nutrition disorders
Anorexia 5 0
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
Muscle spasms 4 2
Nervous system disorders
Somnolence 19 3
Dizziness 10 4
Psychiatric disorders
Insomnia 10 7
Depression 1 0
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders
Hyperhidrosis 6 1
Pruritus 3 2
Rash 2 1

Adverse reactions not reported in Table 1 that were reported by ≥ 1% of DURAGESIC-treated adult and pediatric patients (N=1854) in 11 controlled and uncontrolled clinical trials of DURAGESIC used for the treatment of chronic malignant or nonmalignant pain are shown in Table 4.

Table 4: Adverse Reactions Reported by ≥ 1% of DURAGESIC-treated Patients in 11 Clinical Trials of DURAGESIC

System/Organ Class
Adverse Reaction
Gastrointestinal disorders
Diarrhea 10
Abdominal pain 3
Immune system disorders
Hypersensitivity 1
Nervous system disorders
Headache 12
Tremor 3
Paresthesia 2
Psychiatric disorders
Anxiety 3
Confusional state 2
Hallucination 1
Renal and urinary disorders
Urinary retention 1
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders
Erythema 1

The following adverse reactions occurred in adult and pediatric patients with an overall frequency of < 1% and are listed in descending frequency within each System/Organ Class:

Cardiac disorders: cyanosis

Eye disorders: miosis

Gastrointestinal disorders: subileus

General disorders and administration site conditions: application site reaction, influenza-like illness, application site hypersensitivity, drug withdrawal syndrome, application site dermatitis

Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders: muscle twitching

Nervous system disorders: hypoesthesia

Psychiatric disorders: disorientation, euphoric mood

Reproductive system and breast disorders: erectile dysfunction, sexual dysfunction

Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders: respiratory depression

Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders: eczema, dermatitis allergic, dermatitis contact


The safety of DURAGESIC was evaluated in three open-label trials in 289 pediatric patients with chronic pain, 2 years of age through 18 years of age. Adverse reactions reported by ≥ 1% of DURAGESIC-treated pediatric patients are shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Adverse Reactions Reported by ≥ 1% of DURAGESIC-treated Pediatric Patients in 3 Clinical Trials of DURAGESIC

System/Organ Class
Adverse Reaction
Gastrointestinal disorders
Vomiting 34
Nausea 24
Constipation 13
Diarrhea 13
Abdominal pain 9
Abdominal pain upper 4
Dry mouth 2
General disorders and administration site conditions
Edema peripheral 5
Fatigue 2
Application site reaction 1
Asthenia 1
Immune system disorders
Hypersensitivity 3
Metabolism and nutrition disorders
Anorexia 4
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
Muscle spasms 2
Nervous system disorders
Headache 16
Somnolence 5
Dizziness 2
Tremor 2
Hypoesthesia 1
Psychiatric disorders
Insomnia 6
Anxiety 4
Depression 2
Hallucination 2
Renal and urinary disorders
Urinary retention 3
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders
Respiratory depression 1
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders
Pruritus 13
Rash 6
Hyperhidrosis 3
Erythema 3

Post-Marketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of DURAGESIC. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency.

Cardiac Disorders: tachycardia, bradycardia

Eye Disorders: vision blurred

Gastrointestinal Disorders: ileus, dyspepsia

General Disorders and Administration Site Conditions: pyrexia

Immune System Disorders: anaphylactic shock, anaphylactic reaction, anaphylactoid reaction

Investigations: weight decreased

Nervous System Disorders: convulsions (including clonic convulsions and grand mal convulsion), amnesia, depressed level of consciousness, loss of consciousness

Psychiatric Disorders: agitation

Respiratory, Thoracic, and Mediastinal Disorders: respiratory distress, apnea, bradypnea, hypoventilation, dyspnea

Vascular Disorders: hypotension, hypertension

Read the Duragesic (fentanyl transdermal) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects


Central Nervous System Depressants

The concomitant use of DURAGESIC with other CNS depressants, including sedatives, hypnotics, tranquilizers, general anesthetics, phenothiazines, other opioids, and alcohol, can increase the risk of respiratory depression, profound sedation, coma and death. Monitor patients receiving CNS depressants and DURAGESIC for signs of respiratory depression, sedation and hypotension.

When combined therapy with any of the above medications is considered, the dose of one or both agents should be reduced [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Drugs Affecting Cytochrome P450 3A4 Isoenzymes

Inhibitors Of CYP3A4

Because the CYP3A4 isoenzyme plays a major role in the metabolism of fentanyl, drugs that inhibit CYP3A4 activity may cause decreased clearance of fentanyl which could lead to an increase in fentanyl plasma concentrations and result in increased or prolonged opioid effects. These effects could be more pronounced with concomitant use of 3A4 inhibitors. If coadministration with DURAGESIC is necessary, monitor patients for respiratory depression and sedation at frequent intervals and consider dose adjustments until stable drug effects are achieved [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Inducers Of CYP3A4

CYP450 3A4 inducers may induce the metabolism of fentanyl and, therefore, may cause increased clearance of the drug which could lead to a decrease in fentanyl plasma concentrations, lack of efficacy or, possibly, development of a withdrawal syndrome in a patient who had developed physical dependence to fentanyl. If co-administration with DURAGESIC is necessary, monitor for signs of opioid withdrawal and consider dose adjustments until stable drug effects are achieved [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

After stopping the treatment of a CYP3A4 inducer, as the effects of the inducer decline, the fentanyl plasma concentration will increase which could increase or prolong both the therapeutic and adverse effects, and may cause serious respiratory depression [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

MAO Inhibitors

Avoid use of DURAGESIC in the patient who would require the concomitant administration of a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor, or within 14 days of stopping such treatment because severe and unpredictable potentiation by MAO inhibitors has been reported with opioid analgesics.

Mixed Agonist/Antagonist And Partial Agonist Opioid Analgesics

Mixed agonist/antagonist (i.e., pentazocine, nalbuphine, and butorphanol) and partial agonist (buprenorphine) analgesics may reduce the analgesic effect of DURAGESIC or may precipitate withdrawal symptoms. Avoid the use of agonist/antagonist and partial agonist analgesics in patients receiving DURAGESIC.


Anticholinergics or other medications with anticholinergic activity when used concurrently with opioid analgesics may result in increased risk of urinary retention and/or severe constipation, which may lead to paralytic ileus. Monitor patients for signs of urinary retention or reduced gastrointestinal motility when DURAGESIC is used concurrently with anticholinergic drugs.

Drug Abuse And Dependence

Controlled Substance

DURAGESIC contains fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance with a high potential for abuse similar to other opioids including morphine, hydromorphone, methadone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. DURAGESIC can be abused and is subject to misuse, addiction, and criminal diversion [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

The high drug content in extended-release formulations adds to the risk of adverse outcomes from abuse and misuse.


All patients treated with opioids require careful monitoring for signs of abuse and addiction, since use of opioid analgesic products carries the risk of addiction even under appropriate medical use.

Drug abuse is the intentional non-therapeutic use of an over-the-counter or prescription drug, even once, for its rewarding psychological or physiological effects. Drug abuse includes, but is not limited to, the following examples: the use of a prescription or over-the-counter drug to get “high”, or the use of steroids for performance enhancement and muscle build up.

Drug addiction is a cluster of behavioral, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use and include: a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal.

“Drug seeking” behavior is very common in addicts and drug abusers. Drug-seeking tactics include emergency calls or visits near the end of office hours, refusal to undergo appropriate examination, testing or referral, repeated “loss” of prescriptions, tampering with prescriptions and reluctance to provide prior medical records or contact information for other treating physician(s). “Doctor shopping” to obtain additional prescriptions is common among drug abusers and people suffering from untreated addiction. Preoccupation with achieving pain relief can be appropriate behavior in a patient with poor pain control.

Abuse and addiction are separate and distinct from physical dependence and tolerance. Physicians should be aware that addiction may be accompanied by concurrent tolerance and symptoms of physical dependence in all addicts. DURAGESIC, like other opioids, can be diverted for non-medical use into illicit channels of distribution. Careful recordkeeping of prescribing information, including quantity, frequency, and renewal requests, as required by state law, is strongly advised.

Proper assessment of the patient, proper prescribing practices, periodic reevaluation of therapy, and proper dispensing and storage are appropriate measures that help to limit abuse of opioid drugs.

Risks Specific To The Abuse Of DURAGESIC

DURAGESIC is intended for transdermal use only. Abuse of DURAGESIC poses a risk of overdose and death. This risk is increased with concurrent abuse of DURAGESIC with alcohol and other central nervous system depressants [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, and DRUG INTERACTIONS]. Intentional compromise of the transdermal delivery system may result in the uncontrolled delivery of fentanyl and pose a significant risk to the abuser that could result in overdose and death [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Abuse may occur by applying the transdermal system in the absence of legitimate purpose, or by swallowing, snorting or injecting fentanyl extracted from the transdermal system.


Both tolerance and physical dependence can develop during chronic opioid therapy. Tolerance is the need for increasing doses of opioids to maintain a defined effect such as analgesia (in the absence of disease progression or other external factors). Tolerance may occur to both the desired and undesired effects of drugs, and may develop at different rates for different effects.

Physical dependence results in withdrawal symptoms after abrupt discontinuation or a significant dose reduction of a drug. Withdrawal also may be precipitated through the administration of drugs with opioid antagonist activity, e.g., naloxone, nalmefene, mixed agonist/antagonist analgesics (pentazocine, butorphanol, nalbuphine), or partial agonists (buprenorphine). Physical dependence may not occur to a clinically significant degree until after several days to weeks of continued opioid usage.

DURAGESIC should not be abruptly discontinued [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. If DURAGESIC is abruptly discontinued in a physically-dependent patient, an abstinence syndrome may occur. Some or all of the following can characterize this syndrome: restlessness, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, yawning, perspiration, chills, myalgia, and mydriasis. Other signs and symptoms also may develop, including: irritability, anxiety, backache, joint pain, weakness, abdominal cramps, insomnia, nausea, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, or increased blood pressure, respiratory rate, or heart rate.

Infants born to mothers physically dependent on opioids will also be physically dependent and may exhibit respiratory difficulties and withdrawal symptoms [see Use in Specific Populations].

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 1/6/2017

Side Effects

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