Remifentanil is one of the fentanyl analogs which has been approved for use in human patients, and this drug is marketed under the brand name Ultiva by Abbott and GlaxoSmithKline. This is a synthetic opioid drug which is short acting but very potent, and it is used during surgery for both anesthesia and pain management purposes. Sedation is another purpose that remifentanil may be used for, and when combined with other drugs it can be ideal for general anesthesia. Some anesthesiologists use remifentanil because it is strong enough to do the job but it has a fairly fast recovery time when compared to other opioid drugs that could be used instead. This opioid has a shorter half life than many alternatives so the patient becomes alert and aware in less time and the drug leaves the patient’s system quicker.
Just like other fentanyl analogs there have been cases of abuse reported with remifentanil. Because it is an opioid this drug can cause euphoria and the typical opioid high, however the extremely short half life means that this drug would be low on the preference list when compared to most other drugs in this class. Fentanyl is only half as potent as remifentanil, and the fentanyl analog has a potency that is between 100-200 times what morphine has. In fact remifentanil is so strong that there have been cases where the drug has successfully circumvented naltrexone for those who need adequate pain management. This potency is also what makes the drug such a dangerous one when it is bought and sold illicitly.