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Today the FDA issued a public safety warning regarding Johnson and Johnson’s Duragesic pain patch and its generic equivalents. This is the second such warning for these devices. Recent reports to the FDA confirm that improper use of the patches is still causing severe adverse reactions and death. In July of 2005 a similar warning was issued for the patch after 120 patients died while taking the drug.

The new warning urges physicians to exercise more caution when prescribing the patch and to carefully explain how to use the drug. The patch contains fentanyl, an extremely powerful painkiller usually used to treat intense cancer pain. The reported injuries are from misuse and could be prevented with education.

J&J officials said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in August that they faced 100 lawsuits over the Duragesic patch. Since 2006, two juries have ordered the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based drugmaker to pay a total of $6.2 million in damages to the families of pain-patch users who died after the devices leaked.

Hopefully the new warning will insight a new found concern by physicians and consumers alike and in the future these types of incidences can be avoided.

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