Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to treat pain and is almost a hundred times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl has a rapid onset of action and lasts only for a short time. The drug is widely used as an anesthetic as well as in the management of breakthrough pain and chronic pain.
The chemical name for fentanyl is ''N''-phenyl-''N''-(1-phenethyl-4-piperidinyl) propanamide and it was first synthesized by Janssen Pharmaceutica using four steps, which are described below:
The wide popularity of fentanyl as a potent analgesic in the medical and healthcare settings, led to the development of several fentanyl analogues. Some of these include:
Several fentanyl analogues are used as recreational drugs by drug abusers including 3-Methylfentanyl, Acetyl-α-methylfentanyl, 3-Methylthiofentanyl, α-methylfentanyl, α-methylthiofentanyl, β-hydroxyfentanyl, β-hydroxy-3-methylfentanyl, Thiofentanyl and ''p''-flurorofentanyl.
Aside from the intravenous form of fentanyl, the drug is also available in the form of a transdermal patch, a buccal (mouth) dissolving tablets, a lollipop and a lozenge. The transdermal patch is used in the management of chronic or long-term pain. The drug is released by the patch into the body fats, from where it slowly moves into the bloodstream over two or three days, therefore providing long-term pain relief.