How Long Does Ionsys (Fentanyl Transdermal System) Stay In Your System?

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Ionsys is a brand-name medicine delivery device. The generic name is the fentanyl iontophoretic transdermal system. This system is battery operated and is used to manage severe, acute pain following surgery. The Ionsys is placed on the skin of the patient, where they can then press a button, and a dose of the opioid medication fentanyl is delivered directly through their skin and into their bloodstream. Ionsys should only be prescribed to patients who can’t tolerate non-opioid medications, or for patients who don’t receive relieve from non-opioids. The patient controls the Ionsys system, but a medical professional should monitor and ensure there are no side effects. Side effects of the Ionsys device can include nausea, drowsiness, vomiting, headache, dizziness and constipation.
Ionsys is a carefully regulated medicine delivery system since it contains fentanyl. Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid, and it’s a big part of the opioid epidemic occurring in the U.S. right now. Fentanyl is many times stronger even than morphine. Fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance in the U.S. There are restrictions on how it can be prescribed and used, and the DEA believes fentanyl to have a high potential for misuse and dependence. Possessing or using a controlled substance without a valid prescription is illegal. Ionsys is only available through a program called the Ionsys REMS Program. REMS is a program designed to reduce the risk of respiratory depression because of accidental exposure to the drug. Ionsys can only be used in a hospital setting, and any facility that administers it must be certified with the program. When someone leaves the hospital following surgery, they have to remove the Ionsys device.
How Long Does Ionsys (Fentanyl Transdermal System) Stay In Your System?
Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid. In medical applications, fentanyl is typically only used to treat severe pain, or for managing pain after surgery. In some cases, fentanyl is also used to treat breakthrough cancer pain or chronic pain in opioid-tolerant individuals. Prescription drugs containing fentanyl, aside from Ionsys, include Actiq, Duragesic and Sublimaze. Fentanyl is diverted from medical use and misused recreationally. It’s also synthetically and illicitly manufactured. Fentanyl analogs sold on the black market can be thousands of times stronger than morphine and can quickly lead to fatal overdoses.
Since the active ingredient in Ionsys is fentanyl, it affects the brain and body in ways similar to other opioids, including prescription narcotics and heroin. The opioid drug class binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. When someone uses Ionsys or any opioid, it changes how their body senses pain and how pain signals are sent. Along with pain reduction, opioids cause a slowdown of the functions of the central nervous system, like heart rate and breathing. When someone uses Ionsys, they might appear drowsy or disoriented as a result. Ionsys also slows the movement of the gastrointestinal system, which is why constipation is a symptom of all opioids. For some people who misuse fentanyl and other opioids, they may also experience a euphoric high or a sense of comfortable, pleasant relaxation followed by sedation.
The half-life of a drug is an important measure of how long it stays in the system of the patient. Specifically, the elimination half-life indicates how long it would take half a dose of a drug to leave the system of a patient. It takes around five half-lives for a drug to leave a patient’s system fully. Understanding the half-life of Ionsys can be used to help prevent overdose. The half-life of fentanyl, which is the active ingredient, is usually anywhere from three to 12 hours. For Ionsys specifically, the elimination half-life is 11 hours on average. This means an average range of time for Ionsys to leave the system could be anywhere from 15 to 60 hours. It could be a shorter or longer amount of time depending on certain factors, however.
When someone takes a drug, the half-life can give an estimate of how long it might stay in their system, but individual factors influence this timing. Some of the factors that influence how long Ionsys stays in your system include:

  • The dosage taken
  • How often someone uses Ionsys or fentanyl (it can accumulate in the system of the patient, and someone who has a tolerance will usually take larger doses)
  • Age (older people metabolize drugs more slowly than younger people)
  • Metabolism (people with a faster metabolism will typically eliminate substances more quickly)
  • Body fat percentage (people with a higher percentage of body fat may see more accumulation of the drug)
  • Health (certain health conditions such as hepatic impairment can slow down how long it takes for a drug to leave the system)
  • Hydration (well-hydrated people will usually eliminate drugs more quickly from their system)
Someone taking Ionsys might wonder if and how it would show up in a drug test. On a standard five-panel drug test, Ionsys usage might not show up. It might have to be specifically tested for. If Ionsys or fentanyl are tested for, it can show up in a urine screening for anywhere from one to three days after it’s taken. Sometimes the urine detection window for fentanyl is as short as eight to 24 hours. Hair tests have the longest detection windows for drug usage, and the use of Ionsys might show up for up to 90 days after it’s used. Blood tests tend to have the shortest detection window. Fentanyl can usually be detected in the blood for up to 12 hours after it’s used.

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Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.