Joanne Alvarez was expected to be sentenced in March to five years probation—but no jail time—for her role in the death of Taylor Webster. The little girl was complaining of back and neck pain. Alvarez mistakenly thought that a fentanyl patch originally prescribed to the girl's mother would also be appropriate for Taylor.
However, according to reports not only was the dosage of the patch meant for an adult rather than a child, the drug contained within the reservoir of the transdermal patch is a powerful narcotic that packs a bigger wallop than morphine.
The transdermal fentanyl patch, in fact was designed to ease the discomfort of chronic pain sufferers conditioned to the rigors of narcotic drugs. You don't just slap a fentanyl patch on your arm, regardless of age, if you've never been exposed to pharmaceutical narcotics before. The human body has to ease into something that powerful and become conditioned to it gradually.
That's why doctors need to prescribe fentanyl so carefully. While it can be assumed the mother of Taylor Webster was prescribed the fentanyl patch correctly, it appears that important safety information relating to the drug was not passed on to others, including the caregiver of Taylor Webster.
Little Taylor was no match for the powerful narcotic, and the child died.
Stories such as this beg the importance of information and communication, to ensure that the dangerous profile of the drug is understood. It doesn't help when the manufacturer, Johnson&Johnson, is taken to task for distributing promotional information containing false, or misleading information about fentanyl. The brochures in question had already been tagged by the US Food and Drug Information (FDA) with regard to misleading content, yet the manufacturer continued to distribute the material, presumably to increase sales.
A judge in West Virginia fined Johnson&Johnson and one of its subsidiaries a grand total of $4.5 million.
Meanwhile the recall last year of the Duragesic fentanyl patch calls into question good manufacturing practices, especially in light of such a powerful drug.
The Duragesic fentanyl patch is a transdermal skin patch designed to release the powerful fentanyl synthetic opiate through the skin in a timed fashion. Without this feature, the possibility of fentanyl absorption into the body all at once risks accidental overdose and even death.
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The death of a little girl is testament to a powerful drug, available by prescription only, that is not only misunderstood, but it appears as if patients and their caregivers are also misinformed. Had Joanne Alvarez known just how powerful and dangerous fentanyl could be, Taylor Webster might be alive today.
If you or a loved one have been adversely affected by the Duragesic patch, either from a product associated with the Duragesic recall or from any fentanyl patch in particular, you would be well advised to seek the services of a qualified Duragesic patch attorney.