Pain-relieving patch kills Harlem girl, 6; foster mother charged

The number of “accidental” deaths from fentanyl seems to be on the rise—but this incident is by far the worst I’ve ever heard of. And of course the article goes on to say, “it is not clear where Alvarez got the pain patches because she did not have a prescription for the medicine.”

As heartbreaking as it is (I believe the Mother should be held accountable), this is another example of the media confusing illegal use with “dangerous prescriptions”. Eventually, this will lead to even tighter restrictions on Schedule II narcotics—which will impact terminal cancer patients and others who really need it.

Rather than demonize these medications, we need to be up-front about them… all narcotics are highly addictive. Long term use will lead to chemical dependency. Term of use must be kept to an absolute minimum. Usage of all patients must be tightly monitored.

Medications like OxyContin, and fentanyl are too strong for the vast majority of patients. These drugs should be reserved for only those patients with severe, intractable pain—and who have tried the weaker narcotics (Vicodin, etc.) first without success.

The problem is, the tiny percentage of patients who should actually be using these medications represents much too small of a market for drug makers like Purdue Pharma. The result is we get drugs like fentanyl prescribed for cramps…



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