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Adverse drug reactions

MHRA warns about fentanyl patches after children exposed

Patches could cause serious harm if they come into contact with other people.

Reports of children having accidental contact with fentanyl skin patches have led to strong warnings that patients must ensure the opioid treatment is stuck firmly to the body.

The patches, used to relieve severe and chronic pain, can cause serious harm if they accidently stick to other people’s skin or are swallowed, the UK medicines safety regulator has warned.

They should be folded, with the adhesive side in, before being discarded. The patches should be kept away from children, who are most at risk from fentanyl overdose, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) warns.

The advice follows three reports of accidental contact or transfer of fentanyl patches, two incidences involving children.

Product information is being re-written to reiterate the warnings, which were originally prompted by a safety review by the European Medicines Agency. Health professionals are being urged to repeat the warnings to patients.

The MHRA’s deputy director of vigilance and risk management of medicines, Sarah Branch, said: “If a patch is transferred to another person, remove it and get medical help immediately. If a patch is swallowed, get medical help immediately.

“People who use fentanyl patches should be careful to keep them out of the reach and sight of children and dispose of them carefully.”

Last year approximately 12.5 million patches were dispensed in the UK, the MHRA said.

 

 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20065930

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