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What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is about 81 times more potent than morphine. Primarily prescribed in the treatment of cancer pain, fentanyl drug is not appropriate for general pain management due to its strength.

Consequently, fentanyl isn't indicated in the treatment of chronic headaches, back pain or other persisting pain issues. Also, individuals with a history of alcohol and/or drug addiction should not use fentanyl, as this medication can be highly addictive.

Fentanyl Use: How to Extract Fentanyl

Fentanyl comes in various forms, including:

  • transdermal patches that transmit the medication via skin contact
  • lozenges for transmucosal administration of the drug
  • tablets
  • nasal sprays
  • inhalers

Nasal sprays, inhalers and lozenges deliver fentanyl faster, creating a more immediate onset of the drug's effects. Alternately, fentanyl patches and tablets provide longer lasting effects, as slower release of the medication allows it to be more effective over longer periods of time.

The manner in which patients use the fentanyl drug will depend on:

  • the severity of their condition
  • their medical history
  • their tolerance to pain medications

It's important to note that fentanyl should be used only as prescribed. Taking more fentanyl than prescribed or trying to extract fentanyl from its provided form (trying to take the gel off a patch, for instance) can cause serious health complications and even death.

Fentanyl Toxicology: Side Effects of Fentanyl Use

Given the potency of fentanyl, it's no surprise that this medication has the potential to cause some serious, life-threatening side effects. Among the adverse effects of fentanyl use are:

  • respiratory depression (not inhaling sufficient oxygen)
  • severe allergic reaction, marked by hives, breathing difficulties and facial swelling
  • addiction
  • liver damage
  • death

Those most likely to develop the above fentanyl side effects include patients with a history of:

  • alcohol or drug addiction
  • arrhythmia
  • breathing disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • depression
  • epilepsy
  • hallucinations
  • head or brain injury
  • liver or kidney disorders
  • low blood pressure

To minimize the risk of fentanyl side effects, it's vital that patients discuss their complete medical history with their doctors before starting a course of this pain medication.

Illegal Use of Fentanyl

Fentanyl's strength as an opiate has led to much abuse of this drug. It is unsafe for people to use fentanyl if it hasn't been prescribed to them. Drug abusers have been known to try to extract fentanyl from patches and then inject, snort or smoke it.

Fentanyl is likened to heroin, and illegal fentanyl overdoses are often classified as heroin overdoses.

Fentanyl Recalls and Lawsuits

Unfortunately, within the past years, some lots of fentanyl patches have been improperly manufactured, causing them to release too much of the drug. While these fentanyl patches have since been recalled, a number of patients suffered fentanyl overdoses. Some even died after using recalled fentanyl patches.

The first federal fentanyl lawsuit was filed in June 2007 on behalf of a 28-year old Florida man who died after using a recalled fentanyl patch. The plaintiffs ultimately won a $5.5 million settlement for their loss.

Anyone who has suffered serious fentanyl side effects – whether they were due to recalled products or prescribed use of the drug – will be entitled to a settlement for their injuries by pursuing a fentanyl lawsuit.

Have you or a loved one been injured after using Fentanyl? If so, contact us today to talk to an experienced fentanyl attorney who can evaluate your claim and help you win the compensation you deserve.

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