|Trade names||Dsuvia, Sufenta, Zalviso, others|
|Main uses||Pain, anesthesia|
|Side effects||Respiratory depression (insufficient breathing), stiff muscles, abuse|
|Intravenous therapy (IV), intramuscular injection (IM), subcutaneous injection (SQ), epidural, intrathecal|
|Duration of action||Up to 4 hr|
|Elimination half-life||162 minutes|
|Chemical and physical data|
|Molar mass||386.55 g·mol−1|
|3D model (JSmol)|
|Melting point||97 °C (207 °F)|
Sufentanil, sold under the brand names Sufenta among others, is an opioid medication used to treat moderate to severe pain and during anesthesia. It may be given under the tongue, by injection into a vein, or into epidural space. Effects last for up to 4 hours.
Common side effects include respiratory depression (insufficient breathing) and stiff muscles. Other side effects may include abuse, adrenal insufficiency, low blood pressure, androgen deficiency, and serotonin syndrome. It works by attaching to μ-opioid receptors in the brain.
Sufentanil was first made in 174 and approved for medical use in the United States in 1984. In the United States it costs about 50 USD for 500 ucg as of 2021. In the United States it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance.
The main use of this medication is in operating suites and critical care where pain relief is required for a short period of time. It also offers properties of sedation and this makes it a good analgesic component of anesthetic regimen during an operation.
Because of its extremely high potency, it is often used in surgery and post-operative pain management for patients that are heavily opioid dependent/opioid tolerant because of long term opiate use for chronic pain or illicit opiate use. Currently sufentanil is the most potent opioid painkiller available for use in humans. Although more potent narcotic pain medications do exist, all medications stronger than sufentanil are approved for veterinary use only. It is also used in surgery and post operative pain control in patients that are taking high dose buprenorphine for chronic pain because it is the only opioid that has a potency and binding affinity strong enough to displace buprenorphine from the opioid receptors in the central nervous system and provide analgesia.
In 2018 a sublingual tablet form was approved in the US for use in battlefield settings where intravenous (IV) treatments may not be readily available.
It is essential for the administering medical professional to be trained in airway management with readily available airway equipment because the drug causes significant respiratory depression and may cause respiratory arrest if given too rapidly or in too high a dose. Other opioid side effects such as heart rhythm irregularity, blood pressure changes and nausea/vomiting can also be present in patients given this drug and should be dealt with accordingly.
Sufentanil has been associated with rare instances of anaphylaxis.
Because sufentanil is very potent, practitioners must be prepared to reverse the effects of the drug should the patient exhibit symptoms of overdose such as respiratory depression or respiratory arrest. As for all other opioid-based medications, naloxone (trade name Narcan) is the definitive antidote for overdose. Depending on the amount administered, it can reverse the respiratory depression and, if enough is administered, completely reverse the effects of sufentanil.
It is a synthetic opioid analgesic drug approximately 5 to 10 times as potent as its parent drug, fentanyl, and 500 times as potent as morphine. Structurally, sufentanil differs from fentanyl through the addition of a methoxymethyl group on the piperidine ring (which increases potency but is believed to reduce duration of action), and the replacement of the phenyl ring by thiophene.
Society and culture
Sufentanil with and without lidocaine or mepivacaine is available as a transdermal patch similar to fentanyl in Europe under trade names such as Chronogesic. It is available as a sublingual tablet under the trade name Dsuvia. The decision to approve this new potent synthetic opioid came under criticism from politicians and from the chair of the FDA advisory committee, who fear that the tablets will be easily diverted to the illegal drug market.
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