FDA Warns of Threat to Children from Discarded Pain Patches

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256px-Fentanyl_patch_packagesThe fentanyl patch, which delivers a potent narcotic painkiller through the skin to people receiving treatment for injuries and pain management, poses a serious threat to children. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning to the public that exposure to the patch can be deadly to children, and that patients using the patch should take great care in disposing of used patches.

Fentanyl is a synthetic narcotic analgesic used as a painkiller and anesthetic, available in generic form or under the brand name Duragesic. It is about one hundred times stronger than morphine, and its effects have a rapid onset and short duration. It is used to treat patients suffering from chronic pain, where ordinary pain medications cannot provide relief. It is commonly delivered to a patient through a skin patch that provides a continuous low dosage of the medication. The drug can be addictive, and doctors only prescribe it for people who are already used to the effects of narcotic pain medications. One patch will last at least seventy-two hours. Fentanyl patches should never be placed in the mouth or swallowed. Patients are specifically cautioned to keep patches away from children under the age of two.