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Nick Carroll
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Despite Potential Dangers, Pain Patch Use Expected to Grow

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Narcotic pain patches, including fentanyl-containing Duragesic and generics, have had their safety questioned and been linked to deaths going back more than a decade. In fact, an eight-year study released in 2007 revealed fentanyl to be among the most dangerous drugs on the market, declaring the drug was suspected to be linked to at least 3,500 deaths over the period examined.

Over the course of the years, the FDA has released two safety warnings for fentanyl transdermal patches. The warnings have been designed to alert patients and healthcare professionals about the safe use and potential dangers of fentanyl. Patches have also been recalled due to potential leaks that could have led to overdose. An investigation was also launched to determine if the problem with non-defective patches was related to the use of the patches or to the patches themselves.

Attorney Angel Reyes of Reyes Bartolomei Browne wrote on his blog back in April, "At some point Johnson & Johnson, ALZA Corp., Janssen Pharmaceutica, Sandoz, Mylan, and Watson will come to their senses and stop prescribing these death patches."

Despite all the evidence bringing the general safety of fentanyl patches into question, a report by Greystone Associates notes that revenue from the pain patch segment is expected to increase by more than 15% by the year 2012. Of course, not all pain patches contain fentanyl. NSAIDs and topical anesthetics are delivered with via this method as well. However, an increase in revenue in the sector will likely result in an increase in reported adverse events. It will be interesting to see if the safety of these devices continues to come into question.

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Sad to hear that they are growing in use, it doesn’t seem to make sense when you look at the warnings.