The opioid crisis is unprecedented in America, and it has killed more than 840,000 Americans since 1999. Sadly, the number of opioid-related deaths is increasing rapidly due to the proliferation of fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid that is 80 times more powerful than morphine.
People can be exposed to fentanyl in many different ways. Many street drugs are being “cut” with fentanyl to produce more intense highs, making it increasingly likely that people inadvertently use it. Even regular opioid users often don’t have a high enough tolerance for a dose of fentanyl, which makes overdoses extremely common and fatal in people who are exposed to the substance.
Some people are prescribed fentanyl pain patches to help control their chronic and acute pain. But because fentanyl is such a dangerous substance, the dosages must be exact for them to be used safely. When a prescription error occurs, whether it’s at the doctor’s office or the pharmacy, patients can overdose on fentanyl due to using patches that are too powerful for their body weight and tolerance levels.
In addition, some fentanyl pain patches have been released to the market that were affected by manufacturing defects. These patches contained more fentanyl than they were supposed to. That means that when their doctors and pharmacies did everything right, certain patients were still at risk of overdosing due to receiving a significantly higher dose of fentanyl than intended.