Fentanyl is a synthetic analog to opium. As a medication, fentanyl is considered 50–100 times stronger than morphine. Patients undergoing difficult surgeries and cancer treatments benefit from its effectiveness. Fentanyl is often compared to oxycodone for pain management, so it is helpful for recognizing how little is required to induce similar effects. Oxycodone doses range 5–60 milligrams (mg) while fentanyl dosages range 15–150 micrograms (mcg). Both dosages are miniscule, but the amount of fentanyl required is almost 1000 times smaller.
The problem started a while back. In the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies were given permission to market oxycodone (a timed release opiate) and similar drugs to doctors and patients. Pain was advertised as a disease to treat more than just a symptom. In the following decades, pain-management became a hundred billion dollar industry. To keep the competition alive, companies introduced new forumulations of opiates, including fentanyl.