Doctors Warned About Cephalon

Sept 14, 2007 

Drug manufacturer Cephalon Inc. recently sent out warning letters to doctors throughout the United States about the new risks found with Fentora.

Fentora, a strong narcotic that is used to treat acute cancer pain, has recently been linked to several deaths.

Cephalon Accused of Wrong Marketing

The FDA approved both Fentora and its predecessor, Actiq, to be only used by cancer patients.

However, the medications are now being prescribed by health care physicians “off-label” to treat headaches and back pain.

Although Cephalon has denied any wrongful marketing, the company is now under attack in light of several deaths reported in relation with the medications.

Medication Details

Fentora and Actiq both contain fentanyl, a substance that is 80 times stronger than morphine and is highly addictive.

Both medications have been linked to four deaths, three occurring due to complications within the respiratory system.

Two of the patients who died were prescribed it for headaches without being on opiate therapy, which is required with such a strong drug.

Off-Label Marketing

Off-label marketing by drug companies is illegal; however, doctors are permitted to prescribe medications off-label if they think it’s necessary.

“We have been monitoring this issue,” said Susan Cruzan, an FDA spokeswoman. “The FDA takes this very seriously, and we are working with the company to assure the safest possible use of this medication.”

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