Fentanyl Prescriptions on the Rise

A recent CNN report documented the high number of American patients who have been exposed to Fentanyl. Typically, doctors and pharmacists have written Fentanyl prescriptions to cancer patients and patients with high Opioid tolerance. However, as the report shows, thousands of patients who received prescription Fentanyl did not have cancer and were not receptive to the benefits of the Opioid.

Fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic and prescription Opioid, is administered only to patients with chronic or severe pain. This Opioid is 100 times the strength of Morphine, and 50 times as potent as Heroin. Additionally, the drug is so potent, many who can no longer get a rush from Heroin’s effects turn to Fentanyl for more intense feelings of euphoria.

Fear of Fentanyl

The report informed readers that within a four-year period, “51% of patients who were prescribed should not have received Fentanyl”. Their system was “opioid-nontolerant” and should have received other Opioids. Other findings spanning the course of 5 years found “34% to 55% of patients” were not receptive to Opioids.

A few problems arise with patient use of Fentanyl.

The first problem is Fentanyl’s highly addictive nature; the second is the patient’s inability to tolerate the drug (i.e. the patient’s body, unable to process the Opioid, goes into overdose). During the Opioid Epidemic, as rates of drug overdoses seemed to be leveling off, the presence of Fentanyl in Heroin, Cocaine, and Meth spurred a rash of new fatal overdoses. In two years, Fentanyl contributed to “3,105 Opioid deaths in 2013, rising to 9,580 in 2015”.

Records show 5,000 patients were prescribed Fentanyl at one time in previous years. In addition to such findings, reports have shown previous monitoring was not effective in reducing Fentanyl prescriptions. These numbers have concerned health officials and, as a result, officials implemented drug monitoring programs in a majority of states. In attempts to reduce excessive Fentanyl Opioid prescriptions, the FDA and pharmacists have vowed to use other drugs in place of Fentanyl, or to administer smaller doses of Fentanyl.

Doctors and pharmacists are continually being made aware of Fentanyl’s deadly effects. Pharmaceutical companies have also taken precautions to withhold certain Opioid medications from patients who do not need it. Patients can explore their options when taking drugs like Fentanyl as well as opt to take other Opioids. Proactive action can save lives and spread awareness concerning effective pharmaceutical Opioid use.