Cancer Home > Actiq Uses

Actiq is prescribed for the management of breakthrough cancer pain in people who are also taking a long-acting narcotic pain medication. It is approved for use in adults and children as young as 16 years old who are already accustomed to the effects of opioid medications. "Off-label" (unapproved) uses for Actiq include treating breakthrough pain associated with other types of chronic pain besides cancer.

What Is Actiq Used For?

Actiq® (fentanyl lozenge) is a prescription narcotic pain medication used to treat breakthrough pain in people with cancer who are also taking around-the-clock narcotic medication for their underlying pain. Breakthrough pain is pain that "breaks through" regularly scheduled pain medication.
Actiq comes as a lozenge, with a handle (sometimes called a lollipop), and is placed in the mouth between the cheek and gums. This medication is meant to be used on an "as-needed" basis, in combination with a regularly scheduled, long-acting narcotic medication. It should not be used to treat acute pain (pain that is expected to last only a limited amount of time), such as headaches or migraine pain, or pain from surgery.
When treating chronic pain, an effective strategy for pain relief often includes using a baseline, around-the-clock medication to control most of the pain, without causing too much drowsiness or other side effects, plus adding a rescue medication for breakthrough pain. Actiq is commonly used as the rescue medication in such a strategy.
Actiq is an opioid narcotic medication. It should only be used in people who have already been using opioids and who are tolerant to their effects. In general, people are considered opioid tolerant if they have been taking at least 60 mg of morphine, 30 mg of oxycodone, 8 mg of hydromorphone, 25 mcg of fentanyl patch (Duragesic®), or an equivalent dose of another opioid every day for at least a week.
Actiq is a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II medications have the highest abuse potential of all prescription medications. As a controlled substance, there are strict rules and regulations for prescribing and obtaining this medication.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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