Used to help relieve moderate to severe chronic pain, a fentanyl patch, known by the brand name Duragesic® and other generic pain patches, is a powerful prescription medication that delivers opioids into the body gradually through the epidermis (skin). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed a safety advisory in July 2005 stressing the importance of carefully using the fentanyl pain patch. However, another safety advisory for the fentanyl patch was issued by the FDA in December 2007 because several users experienced serious side effects, with some incidents resulting in death. Now, even with an FDA black boxed warning, cases of severe adverse reactions, injury, and wrongful death continue to take place.
Fentanyl is an extremely strong narcotic pain medication and is a Schedule II opioid agonist. As one of six Schedule II opioid substances that possess the highest potential for abuse and connected danger of fatal overdose caused by respiratory depression, fentanyl may be abused and is even prone to criminal diversion. The patch’s use is only meant to treat persistent, moderate to severe pain in patients who are opioid-tolerant. Although the fentanyl patch should be used only when additional less potent medicines have not been effective, and when pain needs to be controlled at a continuous rate, some medical professionals have given the patch in other circumstances.
If a patient cannot tolerate the potent opioid, yet is still administered the patch, the consequences may be catastrophic and contribute to fatal respiratory depression. Even at its lowest dose or strength, one fentanyl patch given to a patient who is not opioid-tolerant may bring about serious respiratory distress, very slow or shallow breathing, or death. Considering the high levels of fentanyl that may enter the bloodstream at a rapid pace, doctors who inaccurately prescribe the patch to patients for acute pain after surgery, for headaches, occasional or mild pain are doing a huge disservice and putting the lives of trusting people at risk.
The strength of the fentanyl patch typically hits its peak after about 20 to 72 hours of treatment. It is during this time that the risk for severe or fatal slow or shallow breathing (hypoventilation) may take place, even in opioid-tolerant patients. When a patient’s breathing is limited in this way after having the fentanyl patch application, a dangerous amount of carbon dioxide may develop in the blood. Additionally, if a physician overestimates the Duragesic® or generic fentanyl patch dose when transitioning a patient from a different opioid medication, a life-threatening overdose may occur.
It is evident that fentanyl patches have the potential to inflict serious harm on users who may or may not be opioid tolerant. If you or someone you care about has suffered adverse reactions or side effects from using a fentanyl patch, you may qualify to seek compensation for pain and suffering as well as financial consequences brought on by your calamities. Family members who have lost a loved one due to a fentanyl patch reaction or overdose may also qualify to seek damages. Although no amount of money will ever replace the loss of a loved one, monetary compensation may help relieve a family of financial stresses so that they can devote their energy to the needs of their family during such a challenging time.
Farah & Farah’s Fentanyl Attorneys Can Help!
Pharmaceutical litigation and product liability relating to personal injury or wrongful death are intricate areas of the law. Although a defective drug lawsuit in Florida relating to the fentanyl patch can be filed by anyone, it takes a Fentanyl Side Effect Lawyers to ensure that negligent drug manufacturers are held accountable and that an individual filing a claim is successful in their efforts. At Farah & Farah, our knowledgeable lawyers are dedicated to utilizing our many years of experience to protect the best interests of our clients. To find out if you have a fentanyl patch claim, please contact a personal injury lawyer at Farah & Farah at 877-245-6707 today for a free consultation.