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Rick Shapiro
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Music Icon Prince Overdosed on Deadly Painkiller Fentanyl

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Fentanyl strikes again. The incredibly powerful painkiller reportedly took the life of  music icon Prince. A medical examiner’s report revealed Prince accidentally overdosed on the prescription drug resulting in the death of the megastar. When Prince took the deadly dose of fentanyl remains “unknown,” according to the medical examiner’s report.

Fentanyl – One of the Most Dangerous Drugs on the Market

Accidental Fentanyl overdose deaths are not uncommon. Why? Because fentanyl is a synthetic opiate analgesic similar to, but even more potent than, the painkiller morphine. In fact, Fentanyl is actually 81 times more powerful than morphine.

Fentanyl is usually administered by an injection, but can also be administered by a transdermal patch.

The patches were lauded as a more effective pain killer for those types of patients with chronic pain or with terminal cancer. The problem is that pharmaceutical companies often push the envelope and urge physicians to broaden that use of their medications in order to increase their profits. The other material difference between these patches and pill form medication seems to be that it is easier to have an accidental overdose death with this fentanyl patch medication then pill form of other opiates. Clearly, any such pain medication can be abused, but inadvertent or accidental overdose death seems to be more common nationwide with fentanyl patches then any other form of opoid pill medication. Our firm has represented families where love ones simply placed a second fentanyl patch on their body too early after placing a first patch, and they simply never wake back up. That’s a spooky form of accidental overdose death.”

Manufacturers of fentanyl transdermal pain patches have voluntarily recalled numerous lots of their patches and the FDA has issued Public Health Advisories related to the fentanyl patch dangers. Manufacturers affected include Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, L.P.; Alza Corporation; Actavis South Atlantic, LLC; Sandoz; Cephalon, Inc. and Mylan.

Our Virginia Beach personal injury and wrongful death law firm has been concerned about the serious risks associated with fentanyl use for years. In fact, we sent a letter to the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requesting the formation of a special task force to investigate and address the disturbingly high number of accidental Fentanyl overdose deaths (read the FDA letter here).

Prince’s use of Fentanyl and how he got a hold of this dangerous painkiller is the focus of a criminal investigation, according to Yahoo News. A judge sealed all records in the case, but no charges have been filed, as of the date of this posting. Whoever assisted Prince in obtaining Fentanyl needs to be held responsible.

While it is currently unreported as to whether the fentanyl patch doses Prince used were prescribed or illegally obtained, fentanyl is widely prescribed in patch doses of 12, 25, 50, 75 or even 100 mcg’s, according to rxlist.com. The drug was originally prescribed to only chronic pain patients who did not respond to other types of opioid prescriptions and it was initially administered in pill form. The application of a fentanyl pain patch (Duragesic is a brand name of the pain patch) may contribute to the risk of an accidental overdose since a patch delivers the painkiller in a more direct and potent fashion.

Opioid Use and Overdose Deaths are a National Epidemic

The shocking death of Prince highlighted a growing national epidemic associated with opioid use. A study published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found a shockingly high increase in fatal opioid deaths over the past decade.

Fentanyl Access Must Be Addressed

Our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk wrongful death attorneys remain extremely concerned about the availability and use of fentanyl as a prescribable painkiller. The drug is lethal and there needs to be an examination by the FDA on whether the benefits of fentanyl truly outweight the stark and tragic costs.

Our attorneys have represented families where loved ones simply placed a second fentanyl pain patch on their body too early after placing the first patch. The result – they never wake up. That’s a troubling form of accidental overdose death.