I take Fentora 200 mcg tablets, 8 per day, for breakthrough pain. They are a god send because they eliminated the original problem with ACTIQ. Actiq causes, as many of you have surely found out, extreme tooth decay. Also, the Fentora requires a lower dose because more of it is absorbed into the blood stream instead of the stomach and GI tract. (less first-pass metabolism effect). They also are so important because for patients taking Methadone, fentanyl is the only opiate strong enough to handle break through pain. This is due to the fact that methadone has such an unusually long half life, which, makes it excellent for treating around the clock pain.
I am currently part of the patient assistance program sponsored by Cephalon. A government grant pay for the medication for people who meet certain criteria. The way that it is set up is that when your doctor writes a script for fentora, you fedex it to a central pharmacy in Pennsylvania. This central pharmacy fills the prescription and fedex's it back to your home. All in all, a pretty efficient way to get pain medications...or so I thought.
I get 228 pills every 28 days. The manufacturer ships them in boxes of 28; there are seven blister packs with four tablets in each blister pack. The boxes are sealed, obviously, upon completion at the manufacturing plant. Fedex has no access to the medication as the med boxes are sealed inside of another box on shipment.
I recieved my normal medications via fedex this month on time, like usual on a thursday. On Friday, I went to open a sealed box to take a dose of medication from it. When I opened this SEALED box, to my surprise, twenty four of the twenty eight tablets were missing from the box!!! In other words, only one of the seven blister packs that were suppossed to be in the box were there.
Obviously, since the boxes were sealed when I recieved them and there was no sign of tampering, the shortage occurred at the factory where Cephalon packages its medicines. EITHER a machine shorted the box, or someone got sticky fingers on the assembly line.
When i contacted Cephalon, I was given this as my only option: Get another prescription from my doctor for the 24 pills, and they would pay for them. As all of you know, this was not going to happen for obvious reasons. I explained to them that when a patient says that their medication was lost/stolen/tampered with/shorted at pharmacy, their doctor is automatically suspicious. In my situation, my pain doctor uses documentation to record an incident. So, not wanting to give my doctor any reason to not trust me, I did not ask for a replacment prescription from my doctor. Basically, Cephalon told me that I was screwed and that there was nothing that I could do about it. They said that since it was a controlled substance, they just could not send me replacement medication because of the governement controls. I said, " If these drugs are controlled so strictly, then how could you let your factory make such a major error?" I got no response on this. See, Cephalon outsources the packaging of the drugs so they really don't know whats going on in the factories. They know that people are getting shorted on their meds because they have a policy to deal with situations like this. I was also given the option to take a cash payment in lieu of getting my doctor to write another prescription. In essence they were saying, "We screwed up, we know some boxes are making it out of the factory short, and we're going to pay you off."
So, for those of you taking Fentora, watch out. If it happened to me, it can happen to you. When you get your boxes, open them in front of the pharmacist who filled the script or the delivery man who delivered them. IF you get a short box, you are going to need someone to verify that they saw the boxed opened. And, DO NOT EVER go back to your doctor requesting a new script for the lost meds. THis is a sure way to get kicked out of your doctor's practice, and/or lose that doctor's trust for good.