A 12-year-old girl recently died in her bed in the town of Clinton, Missouri. A Fentanyl patch reportedly stuck to the girl after her grandmother had thrown it away. Authorities believe the child put the used pain patch on her leg, went to bed, and did not wake up. Sadly, her body was discovered in the bed on Saturday, May 11, 2013.
A six-year-old child was found dead with a Fentanyl pain patch on his back in 2010 in West Plains, Missouri. He had slept in the same bed as a relative who used the pain patches.
The drug Fentanyl is often called a “pain patch.” This drug is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and 40 times stronger than heroin. Used to treat pain caused by cancer, the patches are a potent man-made narcotic. “[Fentanyl is] primarily a respiratory depressant. It knocks them out. They stop breathing. It drops their blood pressure. Children are even more likely to be harmed because children haven’t been on narcotics to develop a tolerance,” said Dr. Brent Furbee.
Children are at a higher risk of death or serious injury when they come across this drug patch. In addition, their mobility and curiosity can lead them to find lost patches. Some children have taken discarded patches from the trash and stored patches from medicine cabinets. Unfortunately, Children sometimes put the patches in their mouths or stick them to their skin. These patches resemble a Band-Aid or sticker that children often love to wear. As a result, Fentanyl patches are very dangerous when there are adults who use them with children in the household.
These Fentanyl pain patches are not only deadly for children but can also be lethal for adults. For example, the widow of a man from Polk County, Missouri recently filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Missouri. The lawsuit alleges that the woman’s husband died after using a Fentanyl patch. As a result, his autopsy revealed a lethal concentration of Fentanyl in his blood.
In 2012, the FDA issued a reminder warning to patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals of the importance of appropriate storage, use, application, and disposal of Fentanyl patches. The hope was to prevent life-threatening harm from accidental exposure to the active ingredient, fentanyl. Recently, FDA evaluated a series of 26 cases of pediatric accidental exposures to fentanyl patches over the past 15 years. Of these 26 cases, ten resulted in death and 12 in hospitalization. Sixteen of the 26 cases occurred in children two years old or younger. See http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm114961.htm
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