UK-based drug firm Cephalon has issued a warning over its powerful painkiller intended for cancer patients after three people died due to its improper use.
The deaths were caused by errors in prescribing Fentora® (fentanyl buccal) to noncancer patients – two of whom were being treated for headaches, the company said.
The FDA approved Fentora’s use last year for treating intense bursts of pain experienced by cancer patients already taking conventional painkillers.
Cephalon is warning doctors in the USA not to prescribe the drug for pain it is not approved to treat. The company also stresses that patients should never take more than two pills per pain episode and wait at least four hours between each one.
The company added that Fentora should only be given to people who are already on opioids, and that some of the fatalities have been caused by doctors hastily switching patients from an older version of the firm’s drug Actiq® (fentanyl citrate), to Fentora.
A spokeswoman said some doctors are not adjusting the dosages of the drugs, as described on the product labels, when switching from Actiq to Fentora.
Cephalon is one of several drug companies under investigation by the US Congress for allegedly promoting drugs for uses not approved by the FDA.
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