Opioid patch warning over threat to children

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a new warning amid a growing number of cases where children have been impacted by exposure to fentanyl pain patches.

The US agency has issued the warning after a rising number of cases where children have required urgent medical attention due to accidental exposure to the powerful opioid pain reliever via pain patches.

Fentanyl patches contain significant slow release levels of the drug and generally only prescribed for patients who require round-the-clock, long-term pain relief, such as cancer patients. They’re generally replaced every three days.

The administration said children can overdose on new or used fentanyl patches by putting them in their mouth or on their skin.

“This drug can slow breathing and decrease levels of oxygen in a child’s blood, potentially causing death,” it warned.

The FDA has urged parents and caregivers to make sure these patches are stored, used and disposed of properly.

“Keep in mind that a partially detached patch could get stuck on a child when an adult holds them or sleeps with them,” it added. “If you use fentanyl patches or other prescription opioids, ask your health care provider about obtaining naloxone, a drug used to reverse an overdose. Naloxone can be given to anyone, including kids, who may have been exposed to a fentanyl patch.”

“Keep in mind that early signs of exposure in young children might be hard to spot. Drowsiness is among them, but it could be misinterpreted as routine fatigue or sleepiness,” it added.

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