Four Patients Die After Improper Use and Prescription of Painkiller Drug FENTORA

Drug manufacturer Cephalon Inc. is reporting that four people died after they improperly used FENTORA, a powerful painkiller. Cephalon says that FENTORA, newly approved by the FDA, is only supposed to be used by cancer patients that are already taking prescription narcotics, such as morphine, for their pain.

According to Cephalon, two of the patients that died were prescribed FENTORA to treat their headaches. One of the victims used more than the recommended dosage. The other person that died committed suicide. None of the victims were being treated for cancer.

Cephalon says that the deaths are not connected to allegations (still under investigation) that the manufacturer improperly promoted FENTORA and other drugs to be used in ways other than what the FDA has approved and included on labels.

Since October 2006, physicians have written approximately 78,000 prescriptions for FENTORA pills. The FDA is watching the situation.

Medical Errors

The U.S. Institute of Medicine says that at least 98,000 people in the United States die every year because of medical mistakes.

Some of these mistakes involve errors related to prescription medicine, such as:

• Issuing a prescription for the wrong dosage amount
• Prescribing the wrong pharmaceutical drug
• Writing down the name illegibly so that the pharmacist misreads the medicine name
• Not finding out a patient’s medical history
• Not finding out whether a patient is allergic to a certain drug
• Prescribing the wrong series of treatment
• Filling a prescription incorrectly with the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage
• Giving a patient someone else’s prescription

Medical errors made by a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, surgeon, medical lab technician, or another health care provider can lead to serious injuries and death. Victims of a medical error should speak to a medical malpractice attorney immediately to find out if they have grounds to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Listed on the FENTORA Web site are key points provided by Cephalon, Inc. regarding use of the drug:

• Do NOT use FENTORA in opioid non-tolerant patients
• Use FENTORA only for labeled indications
• Do not prescribe FENTORA for patients with acute pain, postoperative pain, headache/migraine, or sports injuries
• FENTORA is not a generic version of Actiq. Therefore, do NOT substitute FENTORA for Actiq or other fentanyl-containing products
• Follow dosing instructions carefully:
• For unrelieved breakthrough pain (BTP), patients should NOT take more than
2 FENTORA tablets per BTP episode
• Patients MUST wait at least 4 hours before treating another BTP episode with FENTORA

A medical malpractice case or a personal injury case caused by a pharmacy misfill is not the kind of personal injury case that should be handled without the help of a personal injury lawyer that is experienced in dealing with medical errors, negligence, and carelessness.

Painkiller maker reports 4 deaths of patients, USA Today, September 13, 2007

Related Web Resources:

Cephalon Reinforces Important Prescribing and Dosing Information for Fentora,, September 13, 2007

In Washington D.C. and Maryland, the personal injury law firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen handles has handled many medical malpractice cases. We would be happy to offer you a FREE consultation to assess your case and discuss your options with you.

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