Children may be at risk of deadly overdoses from fentanyl side effects, health officials warn

by Jim Orr

Health officials in Australia are warning patients about the risks of a potentially fatal overdose that can be caused by accidental exposure of the fentanyl pain patch to children under five years old. Experts with Australia’s NPS MedicineWise say that it is important that parents are educated on proper use and disposal of the fentanyl patch in order to avoid accidentally exposing young children to this powerful opioid painkiller.

The NPS MedicineWise warning about the fentanyl pain patch follows earlier warnings about fentanyl from the Food and Drug Administration and other U.S. health officials. Because the fentanyl pain patch is an extremely powerful painkiller—about 80-100 times stronger than morphine—children who are exposed to even a small amount of fentanyl gel may be at risk of cardiac arrest and fatal health consequences due to an overdose.

Many accidental fentanyl overdoses among children are caused by improper disposal of the pain patch, NPS health experts say. Children may find fentanyl patches that are thrown in the trash, where they may become accidentally attached to a child’s skin or placed in the mouth. In order to minimize the risk of accidental exposure after disposal of the clear fentanyl patch, the NPS recommends that patients fold the patch so that its adhesive sides stick together and wrap the patch in paper or plastic to ensure that it is not accidentally discovered by a child.

Children may also face a risk of a fentanyl overdose from accidental exposure to the pain patch through contact with a parent or loved one who is wearing a patch on their skin. Partially detached patches may be transferred to a child’s skin while being held by an adult or while sleeping in close proximity to an adult that is wearing the patch. In order to lower the risk of accidental exposure in these circumstances, the NPS recommends that patients consult with a physician for an approved adhesive to keep the patch secured to the body.

NPS officials also made several other recommendations to patients in order to limit the risk of an accidental fentanyl overdose in children. These recommendations include:

  • Store fentanyl in a cabinet or cupboard five feet off the ground in order to prevent children from accidentally finding unused patches
  • Regularly check to make sure the pain patch is still affixed to the skin, either though touch or visual examination
  • Seek immediate medical attention if patients suspect that a child has accidentally touched, tasted, or ingested a fentanyl patch

Lawsuits Filed On Behalf of Fentanyl Overdose Victims

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. on behalf of patients who have suffered a fentanyl overdose. In addition to the side effects risk of the Duragesic and fentanyl pain patch, patients may be at risk of overdose through exposure to other fentanyl products, including the fentanyl lollipop Actiq, the fentanyl nasal spray Lazanda, and the fentanyl sublingual spray Subsys.

In some instances, these cases have involved overdoses caused by a defective fentanyl patch that leaked deadly fentanyl gel as a result of a manufacturing defect. Other lawsuits have involved accidental overdoses caused by the overprescription of fentanyl products or by fentanyl prescriptions that were written in combination with other CNS-depressant drugs, leading to a combined drug overdose.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson and Fentanyl Pain Patch Lawsuits

If your child or loved one has been harmed by a fentanyl overdose, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for your loss. The first step in determining whether you qualify to file a fentanyl lawsuit is to talk with an experienced attorney about your case.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson is the leading law firm in the U.S. at representing family members whose loved ones were the victim of a fentanyl overdose. Our firm has represented more families affected by fentanyl overdoses and has achieved more settlements and verdicts in lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of defective pain patches than all other lawyers in the country—combined.

For more information about filing a fentanyl lawsuit and to find out whether you may be eligible to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following this link to our free case evaluation form.

by Jim Orr

Jim Orr is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P focusing on business and personal injury litigation. Jim was selected multiple times to the Super Lawyers List and has tried 70+ cases to verdict.