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"I almost Died from Fentanyl"

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Munroe, NY" I almost died from fentanyl in the Duragesic patch," says Vito. "Six patches in a box is like playing Russian Roulette—the third patch I wore definitely leaked and left me comatose."

Duragesic VictimVito says he taking other pain meds before this potentially lethal incident occured but his doctor recommended fentanyl because it was cheaper and he thought it would be the best thing to control the pain of fibromylagia and sciatica.

Vito's first prescription comprised 10 Mylan generic Fentanyl patches, not the brand name Duragesic patch. " I got the gel packs next time around—Duragesic patches made by Johnson & Johnson, and I noticed right away, when I put the first one on my arm, that it wasn't the same as the Mylan," says Vito. "It was much stronger—my girlfriend told me I was nodding out and I almost burned myself with a cigarette. I wore that first patch for 72 hours.

The third patch I wore definitely leaked—I was comatose. All I could do was lie in my bed and I couldn't even get up for my girlfriend's birthday party. At first she was mad at me then she realized something was wrong. I was even afraid that my dog was going to touch it. I put extra tape over it to make sure it wouldn't fall off my arm, just to be on the safe side.

I had to take suboxone—the medication that has Nalaxone—to pull me out. This drug is something like Narcan that you would get in hospital for an overdose—it puts you into immediate withdrawal. If it wasn't for this drug, I would have gone to the hospital: 72 hours of medication that is 1,000 times more potent than morphine had gone into my system at one time—that could kill an elephant.

I checked the remaining patches in the box and I couldn't see any rips or tears; it is more like a leak when you apply it and take it off, that is when it looks like it is leaking. I will never wear this patch again. I went back to my doctor and told him what happened; he prescribed an alternative med. Everything is fine and dandy now but it was a close call.

My mother told me about the recall: she saw a commercial on TV about the fentanyl after the fact. She told me there was a lawsuit about the patches and I didn't have a clue. If I knew that from the get-go, I wouldn't have taken a medication that could leak and possibly kill me."

In January 2009 Johnson & Johnson issued yet another recall for its Duragesic patch and one lot of generic fentanyl patch which was sold by Sandoz, Inc. Since the giant health care company introduced its fentanyl patch in 2004, they have encountered numerous manufacturing defects which have allowed patches to leak the powerful fentanyl gel, resulting in hundreds of serious or fatal injuries.

The drug company has been found liable for at least four deaths of fentanyl users and approximately sixty users have Duragesic patch lawsuits pending. In October 2008, a jury in Florida awarded $13.3 million to a mother of five and in November 2008 a jury in Chicago awarded $16.56 million to the family of a 38-year old mother of three who died in 2004.

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