Is Actiq Safe to Take While Pregnant?

Actiq is a brand-name medication, and it’s a version of fentanyl. Fentanyl is one of the most powerful opioids available by prescription. It’s estimated to be 100 times stronger than morphine. Actiq is a transmucosal lozenge that’s intended to be prescribed for breakthrough pain.

This drug is a highly powerful pain reliever, and it’s designed only for patients experiencing severe, ongoing pain. Actiq is meant only for people who are tolerant to other opioids and receiving around-the-clock opioid treatment simultaneously. Actiq shouldn’t be prescribed to patients not already opioid-tolerant, and it is part of the TIRF REMS Access Program. This is a program that has stringent guidelines as to how medicine is prescribed in outpatient use.

Opioids like Actiq greatly alleviate severe pain but taking them is highly controversial. The opioid epidemic continues to surge around the country, and hundreds of people overdose and die daily. Even with strict prescription guidelines, Actiq and other drugs like it are diverted from medical use and sold on the black market. There are also illicit manufacturers who create illegal versions of drugs like fentanyl to sell to people addicted to opioids. Fentanyl can cause respiratory depression even at small doses and can lead to death.

Is Actiq safe to take while pregnant? The answer is no, Actiq is not safe to take while pregnant. It’s not safe to take any opioids while pregnant, but there is also a risk in abruptly stopping treatment. If a woman is dependent on an opioid like fentanyl and stops taking it suddenly when she finds out she’s pregnant, it can cause serious complications. One complication that can occur is called placental abruption. This can cause massive bleeding and the death of both the mother and the baby.  If a pregnant woman is taking any version of fentanyl or any other opioid, she should consult her healthcare provider to find the best available options.

Will Taking Actiq Cause Birth Defects?

There are many ways taking Actiq can cause birth defects and harm to an unborn baby. First, if a mother is misusing Actiq or other opioids, she is less likely to attend prenatal visits and take proper care of herself during her pregnancy. This may mean that she’s not getting adequate nutrition, for example. A mother taking Actiq outside of prescribing guidelines could also experience hemorrhaging or respiratory failure. Women misusing opioids while pregnant have a higher likelihood of developing preeclampsia. Taking opioids while pregnant increases the risk of prenatal complications significantly.

Actiq can cause problems for the fetus including an increased risk of preterm birth. Preterm birth is a term describing babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy. Low birth weight is likely, and that’s linked to a child who is more likely to develop chronic diseases, have impaired cognitive development and also neonatal death. Problems with the placenta can occur, which can deprive the fetus of essential oxygen and nutrients during development. Birth defects including neural tube defects are more common in babies born to mothers who misuse fentanyl and other opioids.

Babies Born Addicted to Actiq

It’s possible that if a baby is exposed to Actiq, fentanyl, or any opioid during pregnancy that the baby will then be born addicted to the substance. When this happens, a baby will go through withdrawal after birth. This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS. Signs of NAS can start to occur within three days after birth, or some may occur immediately after birth. In some babies, the symptoms may not show up for a few weeks. Symptoms of NAS can include tremors, seizures, and overactive reflexes. Rigidity, excessive crying, and poor feeding are symptoms. Also possible are breathing problems, fevers, sweating, sleep disturbances, and diarrhea or throwing up. Complications of NAS can include jaundice, low birthweight, and a baby who has to stay in the newborn intensive care unit. Different treatment options may be used if a baby is born addicted to opioids. Sometimes medicines like methadone might be administered, as can various medications to treat specific symptoms. Hydration is important when babies are born going through NAS. Most babies who are born and go through NAS will start to recover within a month, although this timeframe can be shorter or longer.

Alternatives to Taking Actiq While Pregnant

For a woman who is taking Actiq or any opioids and becomes pregnant, it can be scary. First, the best thing to do is speak with your healthcare provider immediately. Never stop taking Actiq or any opioid cold turkey, without guidance from a medical professional. Quitting suddenly can cause maternal or fetal death. There are medication-assisted treatment options available for women who become pregnant while taking opioids. If a medication is prescribed for a health problem, it’s important to speak with your care provider about this, as well. Changes can be made that can be a safer alternative for a mother and her baby. It is possible to participate in an addiction treatment program during pregnancy.

Addiction treatment can change the outcome of your pregnancy and your life. Contact The Recovery Village to find out more.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.