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Prescription pain patch abuse blamed for increase in deaths

many cases, people who died from overdosing on the drug were able to easily remove the full dose of fentanyl from the patch and take the entire three-day amount at once, either by injecting, ingesting or smoking it.

In some cases, the deceased sought a state of euphoria by applying multiple patches simultaneously.

It is not always clear from the law enforcement records where people who overdosed obtained the drug, whether from a prescription of their own or from one that had been stolen or otherwise not used according to doctor's instructions, the group reported.

"Oftentimes we don't know where the patch comes from. Sometimes it is from someone who had a prescription or it was purchased on the street or acquired from a friend, so it has been diverted to them," Goldberger said.

Goldberger's team, which includes Mark Gold, M.D., a distinguished professor with UF's McKnight Brain Institute and chief of the division of addiction medicine, has been focused on the use and abuse of prescription drugs. In the past few years his team has seen increased abuse of methadone, and now fentanyl.

"Based on our study we're recommending that physicians better educate their patients on the use of the patch, and, as a result, we might see lower numbers in fentanyl-related deaths in the state of Florida," Goldberger said.

Albert Ray, M.D., medical director of Pain Medicine Solutions in Miami and a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, said that the UF study brings necessary attention to the importance of physician and patient education regarding addictive disorders.

"There is nothing wrong with the patch, the problem is with addictive disorders," Ray said. "Any drug has the potential for abuse. This study is useful for raising awareness of the need for educating prescribing physicians on the importance of screening and monitoring their patients for addictive disorders in order to help decrease the abuse of the p
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Source:University of Florida


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