Alert: Accidental Exposure to Pain-relieving Patch

Pain-relieving patch

The FDA is issuing a safety alert to warn parents and caregivers about the danger to babies and young children of the fentanyl patch.  Babies and young children (and pets) can easily remove the discarded patches from the trash if they’re not disposed of properly.

The patch, marketed under the brand name Duragesic and available as a generic product, contains fantanyl, a potent opioid pain reliever (a synthetic form of opium).  An overdose of fentanyl, whether the medicine on the patch is ingested by a child or applied to their skin, can cause death by slowing breathing and increasing the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood.

According to Zachary A. Oselzczuk, PharmD, in the FDA’s Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis, most cases of accidental exposure to fentanyl  involve children younger than 2 years old.

“We are looking for ways to prevent this from happening in the future,” Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., deputy director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research says.  “This reinforces the need to talk to patients and their families to make sure that these patches are stored, used, and disposed of carefully.” Unused patches should be removed from their pouches, folded so that the adhesive side of the patch adheres to itself, and flushed down the toilet.