Cancer Home > Actiq

Actiq is a medication specifically designed to treat pain that "breaks through" in people who take around-the-clock narcotics to relieve cancer pain. This prescription pain medicine comes in the form of a lozenge, which is placed between the cheek and lower gum. Because it is an opioid narcotic, Actiq has the potential to be abused. Possible side effects include constipation, drowsiness, and nausea.

What Is Actiq?

Actiq® (fentanyl lozenge) is a prescription narcotic pain medication used to treat breakthrough pain (pain that "breaks through" the use of around-the-clock pain medication) in people with cancer who are also taking regularly scheduled narcotic medication for their underlying pain. It comes as a lozenge with a handle (sometimes called a lollipop), to be placed in the mouth between the cheek and gums.
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.
(Click Actiq Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Brand-name Actiq is manufactured by Cephalon, Inc.

How Does Actiq Work?

Actiq contains fentanyl, a very strong opioid narcotic medication. Fentanyl binds to a specific type of opioid receptor, called the opioid mu-receptor. Opioid mu-receptors are located throughout the body. Fentanyl produces many different effects by binding to these receptors.
The effects of fentanyl include but are not limited to:
  • Pain relief
  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in mood, including feelings of unease (dysphoria) or unusually pleasant feelings (euphoria)
  • Cough suppression
  • Slowed or shallow breathing
  • Slowing of the digestive tract, which can lead to constipation
  • Pupil constriction
  • Physical dependence.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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