Compare fentanyl vs. Morphine sulfate

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Duragesic
(Fentanyl)

Ms Contin
(Morphine Sulfate)

Treats severe pain. Duragesic (Fentanyl) is an excellent pain reliever, but should only be used by people who've tried other opioid pain medications and still need more relief.Treats severe pain. Ms Contin (Morphine Sulfate) provides good long-term pain control without the need to take medicine frequently, but watch out for constipation.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
5.849056603773585fentanyl
Reviews for Duragesic (Fentanyl)
79%
of people say Duragesic (Fentanyl) is worth it
75%
say it works well
13%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Ms Contin (Morphine Sulfate)
55%
24% vs. Duragesic (Fentanyl)
43%
32% vs. Duragesic (Fentanyl)
20%
7% vs. Duragesic (Fentanyl)
Side effects
fentanylMorphine sulfate
  • Feeling cold 4%
  • Feeling unwell 3%
  • Heart pounding or racing sensation 3%
  • Muscle spasms 2%
More fentanyl side effects »

The Morphine sulfate FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Morphine sulfate side effects »
How it works
fentanylMorphine sulfate
Duragesic (Fentanyl) is an opioid (narcotic) medicine that works in the brain to lower pain perception.Ms Contin (Morphine Sulfate) is an opioid medicine that works in the brain to lower pain perception.
Type of medication
fentanylMorphine sulfate
Pain reliever
Opioid
Prescription only
Pain reliever
Opioid
Prescription only
Available as
fentanylMorphine sulfate
  • Patch
  • Patch extended release
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Mouth spray
  • Lozenge
  • Buccal tablet
  • Nasal spray
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Oral solution
  • Liquid
  • Suppository
Used for (click to learn more)
fentanylMorphine sulfate
Risk factors for serious side effects
fentanylMorphine sulfate
  • Current use of medicine that affects liver enzyme CYP 3A4
  • Age 65 or greater
  • Higher dose
  • People with not enough thyroid hormones
  • History of lung problems
  • Children age 18 and younger
  • Long-term use during pregnancy
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Long-term use
  • History of drug abuse
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Age 65 or greater
  • Age 65 years or older
Detailed Duragesic (Fentanyl) risks & warnings »
  • Current use of medicine that affects liver enzyme CYP 3A4
  • Age 65 or greater
  • Higher dose
  • People with not enough thyroid hormones
  • History of lung problems
  • Children age 18 and younger
  • Long-term use during pregnancy
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Long-term use
  • History of drug abuse
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Age 65 or greater
  • Age 65 years or older
Detailed Ms Contin (Morphine Sulfate) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
fentanylMorphine sulfate
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

See the FDA package insert
Alcohol
  • Never drink alcohol when using Duragesic (Fentanyl).
No specific alcohol-related info.
Food
No specific food-related info.
  • Take it with food to lower the chance of an upset stomach.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
Sex
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
Sleep
  • Often causes drowsiness and constipation. If using it long-term, use a stool softener.
  • Dizziness and drowsiness is common, but your body may adjust.
  • Can make you dizzy or drowsy.
Weight
No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
fentanylMorphine sulfate
  • It's used for people who have tried other opioid medications, but still need stronger pain relief.
  • Duragesic (Fentanyl) is stronger than morphine, works quickly, and doesn't cause as many stomach problems.
  • It's available in many dosage forms, including a patch, injection, film, nasal spray, and lollipop.
  • The Duragesic (Fentanyl) patch provides long-term pain relief and lowers the number of times you need to take pain medications each day.
  • Provides longer relieve for moderate to severe pain to improve quality of life.
  • Good for chronic pain that requires around-the-clock relief.
  • Might have fewer side effects than other opioid pain relievers.
Downsides and risks
fentanylMorphine sulfate
  • Duragesic (Fentanyl) isn't for everyone. It's a really strong pain medication and taking too much can be deadly.
  • It doesn't provide quick pain relief.
  • Often causes drowsiness and constipation. If using it long-term, use a stool softener.
  • Like all opioids, don't use when pregnant, since the baby can become dependent on it and have withdrawal symptoms after birth.
  • Shouldn't be used for people with breathing problems (like asthma and COPD), a slow heart rate, or in the elderly.
  • If using the patch, you won't be able to get the medicine out of your body quickly in case of an overdose.
  • Doesn't work for as-needed or quick pain relief.
  • Dizziness and drowsiness is common, but your body may adjust.
  • Everyone will get constipation - always stay hydrated and take stool softener or stimulant on days you're taking Ms Contin (Morphine Sulfate) if you need.
  • Long term use will likely cause physical dependence.
  • Must be weaned slowly off the medicine after use longer than 2 weeks.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
fentanylMorphine sulfate
  • Duragesic (Fentanyl) should only be used for people whose pain is not controlled by other opioid medications for at least one week.
  • For pain, the patch takes 12 hours to start working and all other forms start working in 30 minutes or less.
  • If using the patch, keep it away from heat sources like heating pads, or else it'll cause the medication to be unsafely released into your skin.
  • Never stop taking Duragesic (Fentanyl) suddenly or else you'll have withdrawal effects. To stop taking it, you'll need to lower your dose slowly.
  • Never drink alcohol when using Duragesic (Fentanyl).
  • Just one dose can be harmful or fatal to children, so store and dispose of this medication in a way that children can't get to it.
  • Opioid pain medicine that provides longer pain relief—up to 12 hours.
  • Works best when taken regularly instead of as-needed.
  • Especially useful for people with chronic pain problems.
  • May not be the best choice for people who have never taken an opioid pain medicine because it lasts so long.
  • Swallow it whole. Don't crush, chew, or split the medicine.
  • Can make you dizzy or drowsy.
  • Avoid activities that need you to be fully alert until you know how it affects you.
  • Take it with food to lower the chance of an upset stomach.
  • Constipation is common and may not go away while you're taking this medicine. Drinking lots of water and taking laxatives can help.
  • Talk to your doctor if it doesn't help enough for your pain, or if the side effects are really bad.
Learn more
More about fentanylSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
More about Morphine sulfateSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert