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New Year’s Eve doesn’t usually bring to mind thoughts of product safety recalls, but that’s exactly what happened on December 31, 2008 as the producers and manufacturers of two fentanyl pain patches simultaneously announced recalls of unsafe consumer products. That concluded a year of fentanyl patch recall that included this February 18, 2008 recall of 14 lots of pain patches.

The dangers are similar in all of the defective products: an increased risk of exposure to fentanyl gel itself, whether it comes through cuts in the patch or folds in the patch. The patches are sometimes prescribed for treatment of severe chronic pain. Possible side effects to exposure to fentanyl gel include respiratory depression (difficulty breathing) and overdose that could result in death.

It is always important to ask your physician about proper application of any pain patch device, as things such as heating pads can have fatal consequences. Nevertheless, with an alarming number of recalls within the past few years and increased research on the substance’s extremely addictive nature, the manufacturers of these products should reconsider their design of the product and the risk-benefit analysis of continuing to use such a potent drug.

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