Cancer Home > Abstral

Abstral is a medication licensed to treat pain that breaks through around-the-clock pain medication in people with cancer. It is a strong narcotic painkiller and has a high potential for abuse. This medicine comes in the form of tablets that are dissolved under the tongue. As an opioid pain reliever, it produces several effects, including pain relief, cough suppression, slowing of the digestive tract, and physical dependence.

What Is Abstral?

Abstral® (fentanyl sublingual tablets) is a prescription opioid pain medication approved to manage breakthrough pain (intense flares of pain that "break through" regularly scheduled pain medication) in people with cancer who are already taking opioid pain medication around the clock for their persistent cancer pain. It comes in the form of a small tablet that is dissolved on the floor of the mouth, under the tongue.
Like other fentanyl medications, Abstral is a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II controlled substances are considered to have the highest abuse potential of all prescription medications. As a controlled substance, there are strict laws and regulations controlling this medication's sale and use.
(Click Abstral Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Abstral is manufactured by Novartis Consumer Health, Inc., for ProStrakan, Inc.

How Does Abstral Work?

Abstral contains fentanyl, which is a strong opioid narcotic medication. Fentanyl binds to the opioid mu-receptors throughout the body, producing many different effects. Some of these effects, such as pain relief, are desirable; other effects, such as slowing down the digestive tract, are undesirable and lead to side effects such as constipation.
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
  • Pupil constriction
  • Itching
  • Physical dependence.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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