How are Duragesic Pain Patches Abused?
What’s the problem?
Because fentanyl is an opiate 80 times stronger than morphine, it is easy to understand why some patients become addicted to the patch and abuse its purpose. In fact, because of the strength of the medication in the patch, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified the Duragesic Pain Patch as a Class II substance, meaning that it has an extremely high potential for abuse and a risk of fatal overdose.
Some patients who become addicted to fentanyl may fake their tolerance or pain level so their doctor will give them a higher dose. In other cases, patients may even cut the patch open and ingest the fentanyl gel all at once. This can result in a fatal overdose, since a single patch contains a three-day dose.
While people who abuse the pain patch are at a higher risk of a fatal overdose, it has been brought to the public’s attention that even patients who do not abuse the patch may be at risk of overdosing. In fact, Johnson & Johnson recalled nearly 32 million Duragesic Pain Patches in February 2008 due to a manufacturing defect in some of the patches that resulted in a higher release rate than intended.
The recalled patches carry an expiration date of December 2009. The FDA previously issued several warnings, alerting users and healthcare providers of the potential risk of accidental overdose associated with the patch.