April 17, 2013
The FDA Safe Use Initiative is launching an effort to increase public awareness about the safe use, storage and disposal of fentanyl transdermal system “patches” (Duragesic® and its generics). In spite of multiple FDA advisories, fentanyl patch poisonings continue to occur. What people don’t know about these patches continues to harm the ones they love and care for.
The fentanyl patch is one of a small number of potent medications that, if accidentally or inappropriately used, can be fatal in just a single dose. Used patches still contain enough fentanyl to harm or cause death of a child. Immediately after a patch is removed from the skin, it should be folded, sticky sides together, and flushed down a toilet.
Healthcare providers can participate in this effort by talking to patients and their caregivers about proper disposal when they prescribe or dispense fentanyl patches. FDA has electronic and web-based educational resources that can be downloaded and printed from the website.
The “Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know,” webpage addresses how to safely dispose of expired, unneeded or unused medicines:
· An overview of safe drug disposal, including a description of several methods to eliminate expired, unneeded and unused medications and link to the DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Events website
· A “flush list” of the medications that should be flushed down a drain or toilet when no longer needed and when a drug take-back program is not available, including printable versions of consumer MedGuides and the “flush list
· Consumer articles on drug disposal and fentanyl
The “Fentanyl Transdermal System (marketed as Duragesic) Information,” webpage contains additional safety information, including FDA Patient Safety News videos and links to labeling.
Healthcare providers can also join the FDA Safe Use Initiative in a broad-based collaborative effort to encourage safer use of fentanyl patches and can read more about it on the Safe Use Initiative’s website.