The pharmacokinetics of a fentanyl matrix patch applied at three different anatomical locations in horses

Heather Skrzypczak, Rachel Reed, Benjamin Brainard, Daniel Sakai, Michele Barletta, Jane Quandt, Carly Smyth, Melanie Ruch, Heather Knych

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Matrix fentanyl patches have not been investigated in horses and may represent an effective means of providing analgesia over an extended time period without venous catheterisation. Objectives: To describe the pharmacokinetics of a matrix transdermal fentanyl patch in horses. Study design: Randomised experiment, Latin-square design. Methods: Six adult horses were given each of three treatments with a 96-hour washout. For each treatment, two 100 µg/h matrix fentanyl patches were applied to the inguinal region (TXA), metacarpus (TXM) or ventral tail base (TXT) for 72 hours. Blood samples for fentanyl analysis were obtained and heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR) and rectal temperature (RT) were measured at various time points for 96 hours. Fentanyl plasma concentrations were measured with LC-MS/MS for pharmacokinetic analysis. A mixed-effects model was used to analyse pharmacodynamic variables. Results: The time to maximum plasma concentration, maximum plasma concentration and area under the curve extrapolated to infinity were 10 ± 3.79, 14.3 ± 5.13 and 10.3 ± 4.8 hours; 2.07 ± 0.74, 1.55 ± 0.53 and 2.07 ± 0.72 ng/mL; and 46.6 ± 9.3, 44.6 ± 6.0 and 46.2 ± 7.68 ng hours/mL for TXA, TXM and TXT respectively. There was no significant difference among groups. There was no significant change from baseline or among treatment groups with regard to HR, RR or RT (P >.1 for all). Main limitations: There was no intravenous treatment group for determination of bioavailability. Conclusions: Fentanyl was rapidly absorbed and persisted in the plasma for up to 96 hours. No adverse effects of treatment on HR, RR or RT were observed. Further controlled prospective studies are needed to determine what plasma concentration, if any, of fentanyl achieves an analgesic effect in horses when administered via a transdermal patch system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • horse
  • pharmacokinetic
  • transdermal fentanyl

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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