We know it is dangerous on the streets.
But a new Manitoba study shows fentanyl is being prescribed dangerously in our health care system.
Before you are given a fentanyl patch, you are supposed to, in a sense, warm up to it.
Because it’s such a powerful opioid – 100 times more powerful than morphine – you are supposed to have been exposed to a less powerful opioid first.
Researchers at the University of Manitoba tracked fentanyl patch prescriptions in Manitoba over 12 years. The study was published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
It showed 74 per cent of the time, fentanyl prescriptions were not safe because that earlier opioid exposure was not given.
The good news – we did improve over time. The trend went from 87 per cent unsafe at the beginning of the study to 50 per cent unsafe at the end.
But the consequences can be dangerous. Over the last 20 years in Canada, there have been 284 reported deaths related to fentanyl during the drug’s initiation phase.