Wrong Number of Fentanyl Patches in Box
by ppga85, Jan 26, 2011
Has anyone ever used Sandoz or other Fentanyl patches and had a shortage in the box? Or any suggestions on what I should do? Here's the situation- I have two boxes each with 4 instead of 5 patches. I thought I was going insane and even accused my mom of taking a patch out of the box. After checking the entire area where the patches were, I checked the other box and found only 4 patches in that box as well. I got the script on January 17th.

I called the pharmacy and the Pharmacist told me there was no way that there was a shortage in the box. I asked her to check another box, which she said she would, but I know she didn't. The boxes are sealed and she would have had to send the patches back to the company if she opened the box. She came back on the phone too fast and I heard paper crumbling in the background as well. She said, "Nope, the box has five patches in it, call the company because I don't make them and there's nothing I can do for you." So, I have 5 patches left and am short two. I run out on February 9th now, instead of the 15th. What am I going to do for 6 days if no one believes me?

Pain background summary- a herniated and 2 bulging discs in C-spine (with spinal cord indentation and bilateral foraminal narrowing, respectively), DDD throughout my spine (worse in C-spine), straightened spine, pinched nerves (getting yet another EMG/Nerve Conduction Study to find out new nerve damage), Fibromyalgia, Piriformis syndrome causing severe sciatic nerve impingement, OA, hip and sacroiliac pain, Lupus, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Sjogren's syndrome-Autoimmune Disorders).

I required a stronger pain med than Percocet or Vicodin/Norco for my Neuro to prescribe Fentanyl. I still have to take Motrin 400mg 3x a day, Neurontin 1,200mg, as well as Zanaflex 4mg 2x a day for pain and occasional dose paks of Medrol for inflammation. My Neurologist may or may not believe me about the shortage of patches, but he knows I am not drug-seeking after almost 2 yrs of seeing him. My insurance company will most likely give me trouble filling the prescription if my Neuro gives me another script early. I'm going to call him tomorrow to let him know the situation.I called the company, Sandoz, but I'm waiting to hear back from them. Each pouch (that the patch comes in) has it's own control number, so maybe they can track it. However, I know the bureaucracy that occurs with Pharmaceutical companies.

Thank you so much and my heart goes out to all of you as you deal with your pain management issues.
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Member Comments (11)
by geminigirl1963, Jan 26, 2011
Definitely make sure you contact the company about the shortages - and even follow up any phone calls in writing.  When you speak with someone on the phone, get their name and any other information you may need.  This will provide you with back-up information, etc., to not only take to your neurologist so that he knows that there really WAS a shortage and that you've reported it to the manufacturer, but it also may help with your insurance company if your doctor can/will give you an early refill script.

I'm presuming I read your post correctly - you had an OPEN box of patches that, after putting one of them on, when you next went to get one, there was one missing.  You also had an UNOPENED box of patches that YOU opened to check the number of patches in there and there was one missing.  Is that correct?  If the second box of patches was, in fact, sealed, then the ONLY way there could be a missing patch is coming directly from manufacturing.

Also, becuase of this problem, I would suggest, next time you do get your script filled, that you open the boxes AT THE PHARMACY IN FRONT OF THE PHARMACIST and check them before you leave the pharmacy.  That way, if it happens again, there's no way they can say it didn't happen.  And also that way, the pharmacist may be more apt to actually check the rest of his stock.

Best of luck with this.  Keep us posted on what you find out.
by ppga85, Jan 26, 2011
Thank you for your comment. I actually called the company this morning and filed an "official complete quality complaint." They have a fentanyl patch department, so it was confirmed and processed while I was on the phone. The customer service person told me to have the doctor and pharmacist call the same number I did. I usually ask names again before I hang up,  but I just woke up from an hours worth of sleep. Next step is to call my doc. Thanks again.
by namnam46, Jan 26, 2011
I'm VERY glad that you did call the company.  Were they able to give you ANY confirmation on the number of patches that were in the exact boxes that you had?  

I'm not sure by your statement - but did you or didn't you get the name of the person that you talked with?  I'm assuming that you didn't.  I REALLY am hoping that you did though. :)

I've been on the Fentanyl patches for over a year now and I'm never experienced a shortage of any type - that's NOT to say that one couldn't AND hasn't occured BEFORE!!  I've just been fortunate enough it hasn't happened to me.

Please let us know how this works out for you.  I HOPE that you will take gemini's suggestion and ALWAYS open your boxes in front of the Pharmacist from now on.  ALSO, if I were you I'd take an extra precaution and buy a lock box for my meds so that NO ONE can touch your meds.  That's ALWAYS a GOOD idea when you are using meds as storng as the patch.  :)

I HOPE that you will update us on what you find out.  I DON'T know what the outcome will be for you BUT if it were me I'd just plan on STRETCHING your patches for an EXTRA day to cover you shortage.

Again, I'm REALLY sorry that this has happened to you!!

Good Luck..............Sherry
by Tuckamore, Jan 26, 2011
Hello ppga,

Welcome to the Pain Management Forum. This is a duplicate to your post an hour earlier then this one. .... So I deleted your other post.

I am sorry that this shortage happened to you. I am not certain of both boxes were sealed...although if you initially suspected someone of taking a patch I assume the boxes were not sealed. As suggested above if they were sealed this was a manufacturing error, which is very rare. However you did the right thing by contacting the company.

Unfortunately unless the manufacture admits to an's doubtful that anyone will believe that this was a packaging error. I am sorry for that because errors do happen.  

Please let us know how this very interesting incident turn out.

Best of Luck to You,
by ppga85, Jan 26, 2011
@namnam46, I didn't get the name of the customer service lady, but I think it was Sherry. She told me my complaint was being processed while I was on hold. I am assuming since she said it was a confirmed (forgot to add that word) official complete quality complaint, that she checked and saw I was correct. Also,  the idea about the lock box is a great Idea seeing that I take another CII prescribed drug.I am also going to stretch the patch, unless my doc can give me the new script early. Thanks for your help. @Tuckamore, my browser closed in the middle of my writing the post so I didn't think the first one posted, thanks for deleting it. Both boxes were sealed when I got them. I swore I saw 3 patches left in the first box, which is why I grilled my mother like a suspect. I knew for sure she didn't take it when she had a severe pain attack yesterday. Anyway, I opened the other box and there were only 4 in there too. Hopefully my neurologist will believe me and/or call Sandoz. Thanks everyone for your suggestions, I really appreciate them.
by Tuckamore, Jan 28, 2011
We hope you will let us know the conclusion of your unfortunate incident.

We wish you the best.
by flower12345, Jan 28, 2011
Wow! Did you call your doctor yet? I wonder if it happened to other people too, since it was more than one box.

Please keep us updated.


by akaBink, Nov 21, 2011
Dear ppga85,  I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!!!

It just happened to ME!!!  I found this post searching to find out if this has happened to ANYONE else, or if I am just the most unlucky chronic pain patient in the world. :-(  I notice that this post is about 10 months old, so I'm not even sure if anyone will read it, but I want to make certain that if this happens to others, there will be validation for them.

I used to always get the Mylan brand and was very happy with them.  The pharmacies around here stopped carrying that brand because they are losing too much money.  Insurance is starting to pay less and apparently Mylan costs too much.  I have just gotten my first script for Mallincrodft fentanyl patches.  The boxes were all sealed.  (I get three per month).  I have only opened one of them so far, but to my horror discovered there to only be 4 patches and NOT 5 in the box.  I have NEVER had this happen before.  I am terrified that no one will believe me.  I don't dare open the other 2 boxes unless I am in the presence of  the pharmacist.  I don't dare hope that the other 2 will be anything but pristine quantity condition.

I've read that the sickness and depression from discontinuation symptoms from fentanyl is absolutely the worst of any opiate medicine.

I will try to post back and let you all know what transpires from this.
by geminigirl1963, Nov 21, 2011
I'm sorry you've also had trouble with the quantity of patches in your boxes.  You're right - this post is an older one and may not get full attention that a new post did, however, I saw it, so it is possible others may also!  LOL

One suggestion I do have for you - and only because this is a completely different brand from what you've gotten in the past - double check ON the box that there actually ARE supposed to be 5 in the box.  Different manufaturers can package their product differently, so there is a very, very slight possibility that they have done this and package theirs with 4 instead of 5.

If you do find that there are supposed to be 5 in the box as with your others, definitley do what you said and open the other boxes in front of the pharmacist (or better yet, have him/her open them so they can inspect the box itself before opening) - however, DON"T wait until it's time for you to put your next patch on.  Take the remaining boxes immediately to the pharmacy where you picked them up from and have them looked at right away.  The longer you wait, the less apt they are either to believe you (even though the boxes are sealed) and the less chance they will have to catch other boxes that may also be short and/or report the problem to the manufacturer.

Also do like the previous poster did and follow everthing up with the manufacturer and your doctor, followed in writing to what was discussed on the phone.  The more phone and paper trail you can provide, the better off you're going to be.  If you can also possibly get something in writing from the pharmacist if they also discover shortages, that would be great in dealing with your doctor and insurance company.

Hopefully this was a single issue and you only have one box that is short, therefore, only missing one patch.  Your doctor may or may not be able to "replace" that patch with an early script for your next prescription - that will be between you, your doctor and the insurance company.  However, if he/she is not able to, at least if he/she knows about the shortage, they may be able to give you some ideas on how to minimize any w/d symptoms you may experience or how to properly "extend" the life of your other patches to cover for the days you would have been wearing the missing patch.

I wish you the best of luck and please do let us know how you make out.