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Fentanyl Patch Overdose Prevention

Fentanyl is a semisynthetic narcotic prescribed for chronic pain.  They are highly potent, slow onset, and have lingering effects after the patch is removed.  In our media we have seen it as a drug being mixed up in heroin to heighten the effects.  There is even an illegal Chinese made fentanyl called carboxfentanyl which is several times more potent than fentanyl which is creating a lot of overdose fatalities.  This is why the fentayl patch should only be used for chronic not acute pain.  However, a recent study suggests that half of new fentanyl patch Rxs are written for patients who are not tolerant to opioids/pain medication.  Be vary of anyone prescribing fentanyl patches for acute pain or if is being prescribed to someone not used to taking pain medications considered narcotics.  One can consider a combination of medications such as NSAIDs (ex: ibuprofen, Aleve) and Tylenol;  not to exceed their daily limits.  One can be prescribed short acting narcotics such as oxycodone, or morphine.  One should always be educated about the proper application and disposal of fentanyl patches.There have been instances of retrieval of the patch by someone else who decides to chew what is left of the patch and get a fatal overdose, since it is a slow release dermal patch not meant to be ingested.    Lastly, if you or someone you live with has a fentanyl patch it may be a good idea to get a naloxone prescription which prescribers should be doing.

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