Drug Fentora, which had been prescribed as a painkiller for headaches, resulted in the death of four patients in Washington, USA. Headaches were, however, not what Fentora was approved for. The drug was granted approval by the FDA only for usage by cancer patients who are already undergoing morphine or other prescription narcotics treatments.
The drug’s manufacturer Cephalon Inc., reported that these fatal results occurred due to improper usage of the drug and that it was incorrect dosages that resulted in these deaths.

There were allegations that accused the company of engaging in fallacious promotion and marketing of Fentora for uses which have not been approved by the FDA and which are not specified on the labels. However, the company denied these allegations.

Amongst the four death cases that were linked to the drug, none of the cases were qualified as candidates for the use of Fentora. Only two of the cases involved headaches while the third and the fourth case were cases of suicide and over-prescription.

Cephalon states that none of the deceased were appropriate candidates for the drug and that there were no death reports in cancer patients.
Fentanyl, the main ingredient of Fentora, is an opioid analgesic eighty times stronger than morphine. Fentora is very useful in treatment of breakthrough cancer pain. The biological effects of this drug are very similar to heroin’s but the drug is even more dangerous and addictive than the heroin since it acts for a very short period of time. It also produces significantly worse respiratory depression.

Cephalon sent letters to health care professionals in September stating that Fentora is not a substitute for Actiq as Fentora is much strongerand that it should not be used for treatment of post-operative pain, acute migraine, and bone injuries while Actiq was meant for breakthrough cancer pain as well as pain from bone injuries, migraines, severe back-pain, neuropathy, arthritis, and other situations of moderate to severe chronic, non-malignant pain.

The manufacturer is testing the drug for other types of pain and is hoping for the approval of other uses by the end of this year.