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Use and dispose of fentanyl skin patches ‘safely’, warns regulator

Patients using fentanyl skin patches for chronic pain relief should be advised to check that the patches are stuck on securely and are disposed of safely.

The warning follows reports to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency of the transdermal patches accidentally sticking to other people’s skin on contact.

“If a patch is swallowed, get medical help immediately”

Sarah Branch

The MHRA has received three reports of accidental contact with or transfer of fentanyl patches to date. Two of the three reports concerned children.

Dr Sarah Branch, MHRA deputy director of vigilance and risk management of medicines, said: “It is extremely important when applying a fentanyl skin patch that people check that they are stuck on securely.

“The used patch should be folded in half so that the adhesive side sticks firmly to itself. It should then be safely thrown away in a secure bin so that it is not picked up by young children,” she said.

“If a patch is transferred to another person, remove it and get medical help immediately. If a patch is swallowed, get medical help immediately,” she added.

In particular, Dr Branch said patients should be careful to keep the patches out of the reach and sight of children, and dispose of them carefully.

The MHRA said it had written to health professionals about the problem and also issued a Drug Safety Update.

A European review has already assessed the risks of accidental exposure, including accidental transfer and improper disposal, associated with these patches.

As a result, the product information will be updated to strengthen these warnings and stress the importance of keeping the patches out of reach and sight of children.

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