Guest Author - Susan Hubenthal
After a number of deaths in patients using fentyl pain management patches were reported, did the FDA issue a Public Health Advisory on July 15, 2005. They described fentyl as being "a very strong narcotic." These patches are prescribed for patients with severe pain.
It is not known if all the deaths were from regular use or abuse. Alcohol, heating pads, electric blankets, hot tubs, saunas, heated water beds, or any excessive exposure to heat could cause an overdose which can put a patient into a coma. Removing the patch when the overdose has already happened, will not stop the emergency because the drug is absorbed and it is built up in the patients system and will continue to absorb for many hours even after the patch is removed.
Fentyl was known as a designer drug in the 1970's. It was first marketed as a heroin substitute. It was synthesized in Belgium in the 1950's and it is about 80 times more potent than morphine. The most common street name for fentyl is China White, but is sometimes known as New Heroin, Tango and Cash, and Goodfella. Those who overdose on fentyl patches are often found with multiple patches on their body, while others find ways to remove the contents of the drug for smoking or oral intake. Most fentyl drug deaths occur because the abuser cuts open the patches and sucks out the drug, which is about 50 times stronger than heroin and 80 times stronger than morphine.
Fentyl remains a popular street drug. There is a new fentyl street drug which is a fentyl medicated, fruit flavored, lollipop known as a Percopop.
If the FDA were to conduct a new investigation on allowing the fentyl patches to remain on the market the way they are now produced, the pharmaceutical companies would no doubt raise objections because fentyl patches are huge money makers for them.
Patients with severe pain should be allowed fentyl patch prescriptions. But the manufacturers must find ways to make the patches safer for the patient and more difficult to extract the drug for abusive purposes.
Adolescents find ways to get hold of prescription drugs. Most often they are not aware of the danger of an overdose. Fentyl patches are a loaded gun for an inexperienced kid thinking of experimenting. Parents need honest, truthful drug education just as much as their school aged children. They need to be aware of the tremendous danger that lurks in the darkness, waiting to snatch another
precious childs life.