"I was on slow-release morphine before getting the patch but I was so tired of taking pills that my doctor suggested I try the fentanyl," says Tony. "I thought it would be a good alternative rather than swallowing so many pills three times a day. But in retrospect I would rather be on the pills—I had more energy and they are probably safer.
"At first the fentanyl patch seemed to be working well but sometimes I would get 'cold' patches, meaning they wouldn't last the 3 days. [The Duragesic fentanyl patch is supposed to be changed every 3 days]. I would get anywhere from 12 to 48 hours of relief but occasionally I would get a 'hot' patch and not change it for 5 days. I was used to changing it every 3 days no matter what. If I changed the patch more than that, my doctor might think I was abusing the drug." Consequently, Tony often endured pain for one or two days…
"The last time I had a hot patch I was extremely lethargic and slept most of the time," he explains. "When it first happened I had no idea what was going on. I definitely had no pain when I wore a hot patch. But I just feel dopey all the time and it takes me a long time to wake up in the morning
I was on the same dosage for about 8 months and then my doctor upped the amount to 125 micrograms--from 100 micrograms," says Tony. "I mentioned this problem—that all patches are not created equally-- to my doctor and he had no comment; in other words he doesn't have a solution. I think that he believes the manufacturer rather than his patient, like many doctors will do.
I talked to my doctor about coming off the patch but he thinks it will be a step backwards—I think it might have something to do with the medical profession getting a kickback from the Duragesic patch manufacturer. I would like to change doctors but that is pretty much impossible here in British Columbia, at least right now.
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The bottom line is that I believe this is a dangerous drug and it should come off the market. To anybody wearing these patches: whatever you do, don't change them before going to bed; that is the worst and the most dangerous time. "
You could say that Tony is one of the lucky ones: other fentanyl users have overdosed on the drug: LawyersandSettlements interviewed one man whose brother wore the patch and died in his sleep.