Use of Fentanyl Painkiller Patch Could be Deadly
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a renewed warning for patients and doctors regarding the fentanyl patch, a painkiller applied directly to the skin. According to the FDA, the time-release fentanyl pain patch – also known as the Duragesic patch – has been misused. According to a medical journal report based on FDA reports, fentanyl itself is suspected in over 3,500 accidental deaths.
A previous 2005 drug alert from the FDA has been renewed to warn about the risks of the pain patch. Heat can trigger the Duragesic pain patch to deliver dangerous levels of fentanyl. Even hot showers and heating pads are enough to cause potentially deadly overdoses.
Fentanyl is a painkiller that can be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. The fentanyl-transdermal patch was approved by the FDA to treat cancer patients suffering from chronic pain, but it has been wrongly prescribed by many doctors to treat temporary pain. Of the 3,500 accidental deaths linked to the drug, the fentanyl patch has been identified as the leading cause of fatality.
Source: "FDA renews alert on painkiller patch." By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. Los Angeles Times. December 22, 2007.