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Daughter Asks if Fentanyl Caused her Mother's Death

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Traverse City, MISarah's mother was prescribed fentanyl for a terminal illness—melanoma. But she passed away, at the age of 55, from respiratory distress and that leaves Sarah wondering if the fentanyl Duragesic patch killed her.

"My mother had overdosed once before and ended up in the hospital," says Sarah (not her real name), "and it took her a long time to recover. She was really out of it, very confused and mentally unstable." The doctors at the hospital told Sarah that her mother had overdosed on fentanyl and Sarah thinks she might have been wearing one of the Duragesic patches that were recalled.

Duragesic Victim"It wasn't until recently that I started reading fentanyl in the news," Sarah says. "Then it hit me: this could have killed my mother. We always thought it was the cancer. I'm not a medical person but I don't think melanoma could have caused her to go into respiratory distress.

From what I read, the patch can cause respiratory distress so it is hard to say if it was an overdose of fentanyl or cancer that killed her. My mother passed away at home; she didn't complain about pain but at the same time she wasn't the type of person to talk about it. We knew she was suffering.

There was no autopsy because she had a terminal illness, but we all knew it was because of the patch because she wasn't taking anything else that would make her go into that kind of state. I'm not sure if the doctors thought she just had a bad reaction or it was one of the leaky patches. I believe she was on the patch for 6-8 months.

Apart from the cancer, she didn't have any other major health problems. I filed a complaint to see if we have a case. I really feel that the patch could have caused it and she died around the same time of the recall—2005. Unfortunately my dad took the fentanyl patches back to the drug store because they were really expensive and we thought if someone else was in pain they could get a free one, not thinking this was so dangerous. I am 99 percent sure that my mum wore a patch when she passed away. My dad is going to contact the pharmacy to see if there are any records of batch numbers or however they know—we want to know if she had the recalled patches.

I hope people will find a different way to manage pain, such as holistic or natural ways—not solely with these dangerous drugs. Pharmaceuticals are not always the right way to go."

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