Michelle Victor, partner at law firm Leigh Day, who is currently investigating a claim related to the death of a young man who died after an alleged Fentanyl patch malfunction, said that more needed to be done at both the manufacturing and distribution levels to ensure such a powerful drug did not lead to more deaths.
Fentanyl, an opioid based painkiller, is prescribed for the management of severe chronic pain but is also supplied on the black market as it is a highly powerful synthetic drug which is 50 times more potent than heroin.
A National Alert was issued in respect of Fentanyl by Public Health England in April this year warning that medical and drugs services should remain vigilant in respect of this drug.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) recently confirmed there has been a significant increase in Fentanyl-related deaths in the UK. The NCA’s warning states 'a lethal overdose can be caused by the ingestion of minute quantities of fentanyl analogues. This includes being absorbed via the skin and through an intake of breath’.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) report that the high potency of Fentanyl significantly increases the chance of an individual overdosing. Once an overdose of Fentanyl has occurred, an individual is likely to experience symptoms including impaired breathing and respiratory problems which, if not treated immediately, may lead to death.
In June 2016 the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in the US confirmed that Fentanyl had claimed the life of singer Prince. The death toll of victims of this drug continues to increase.
A number of claims have been successfully brought in America against pharmaceutical giants responsible for manufacturing allegedly defective Fentanyl products.
Ms Victor is currently investigating a claim related to the death of a young man who died after his Fentanyl pain relief patch allegedly malfunctioned releasing a toxic amount of the drug into his body in turn causing him to suffer a fatal overdose. The overdose occurred despite him maintaining strict adherence to the instruction leaflet provided.
Ms Victor said:
“It is imperative that we have an open discussion about the potentially devastating effects of legally prescribed Fentanyl. In particular we would call for manufacturers of Fentanyl to undertake a stringent review of the safety of the drug before it is distributed.
"It is also essential that investigations are undertaken to ensure that Fentanyl is properly regulated. This latest alert by the National Crime Agency and the statistics on the number of deaths from the drug are alarming.”