Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid painkiller that is used to treat patients with severe pain, such as cancer patients. Fentanyl was first used as an anesthetic in the 1960s, but it was only with the development of the fentanyl pain patch in the 1990s that the drug became available for prescription use.
In the years since the release of the pain patch, fentanyl has also been made available in several other forms, including a lollipop, nasal sprays, tablets, and other prescription types.
Fentanyl is most commonly prescribed in the form of a transdermal patch, which is placed on the skin and left in place for a period of about 48-72 hours until the medicine inside the patch has been absorbed into the bloodstream. The fentanyl patch is sold under the brand name Duragesic, which is manufactured by Alza Corporation and sold by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, two subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson. Generic versions of the pain patch are also manufactured and sold by Teva, Mallinckrodt, Abreka, Actavis, Mylan and Watson.
Some fentanyl pain patches have a reservoir with a fentanyl gel inside. Others have no reservoir and the fentanyl is in the adhesive. For reservoir design patches, because of the high potency of the gel inside the fentanyl pain patch, care must be taken to ensure that this gel does not come into direct contact with the skin, which can lead to an overdose. Several manufacturers have been forced to recall the pain patch because of manufacturing defects that could cause the gel to leak from its protective reservoir onto the skin. Care must also be taken when disposing of used fentanyl patches to ensure that children are not accidently exposed to the fentanyl gel leftover on the surface of the patch.
More recently, fentanyl has become available in the form of a lozenge—also known as transmucosal fentanyl or the “fentanyl lollipop.” First sold under the brand name Actiq, the fentanyl lollipop is now also available in generic form.
The fentanyl lollipop is a berry-flavored white lozenge on a stick which is placed under the tongue or inside the cheek. By swabbing it on the inside of the mouth, the fentanyl medication inside the lollipop be absorbed into the body through the tissue in the mouth over a period of about 30 minutes.
Because of its extreme potency, care must be exercised when prescribing the fentanyl pain patch or other products drug to ensure that patients do not receive an excessive amount of the drug. When doctors, hospitals, or pharmacists give patients more fentanyl than is safe, prescribe the drug at excessive doses, or fail to properly instruct patients about how much of the drug they should take, serious and potentially deadly consequences can result.
If you or a loved one suffered a fentanyl overdose, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit and receive compensation. The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have handled hundreds of fentanyl lawsuits on behalf of our clients, and will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome in your case.
For a free legal consultation from an attorney to find out whether you may have a case, contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by filling out the free case evaluation form located at the top of this page.