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Actiq Lawsuit Filed Over Tooth Decay from Fentanyl Lollipops

A Texas man has filed a lawsuit against Cephalon over its Actiq fentanyl lollipop, saying the sugary painkiller rotted his teeth. The Actiq lollipops, which contain a powerful pain medication in a lozenge on the end of a stick, have also been connected with a number of fentanyl overdose deaths.

The Actiq lawsuit was filed earlier this month by Greg Lee Minckley, in the District Court for the 419 Judicial District of Travis County, Texas. The complaint alleges that the sugar in the Actiq fentanyl lollipops destroyed his teeth and resulted in $37,000 in extensive dental treatment, according to Courthouse News Service. Minckley was prescribed the fentanly lollipops to treat pain caused by pancreatitis, which is not an approved use for the strong painkiller.

Actiq lollipops (fentanyl citrate) are designed to slowly release the potent drug over time as the patient holds the lollipop in their mouth. Minckley alleges that Cephalon developed a sugar-free version of the lollipops, but decided not to market it.

Actiq side effects have also been linked to other serious and potentially fatal fentany injuries, beyond causing tooth decay. As a result of the candy-like nature of the lollipops, there have been a number of fentanyl overdoses and deaths, including users who took too much of the medication and young children who found the fentanyl lollipops and mistook them for candy.

Although Actiq is only approved for the treatment of cancer pain in patients who have already grown tolerant to other opioids, Cephalon has been criticized for marketing the drug in a way that led to off-label sales.

Earlier this month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Cephalon shareholder, which alleged the company illegally promoted the drug off-label. According to a story by BNET Pharma Blog, the company did not dispute the off-label marketing charges, which claimed that sales reps aggressively marketed the drug for other uses, but got the lawsuit dismissed because the shareholder, Jerald King, was unable to tie the actions of Cephalon marketing staff to the company’s board members.

It has been estimated that more than 80% of Actiq users received the medication “off-label” and do not have cancer. The FDA was concerned enough about the power of the lollipops and the potential of abuse that it is requiring Cephalon to alert the agency if any group of physicians who represent potential off-label use, such as doctors who are not oncologists or pain specialists, account for more than 15% of its sales.

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116 comments

  1. edwin Reply

    same story, tooth loss . had it for breakthrough pain. I believe and if someone can varify, when they first came out the brochere that came in the box was different. they later realized about the tooth decay and added a clause to the brochure to try to protect themselves. the addded clause said something about use other then cancer then cancer.

  2. Terry Reply

    I have been on Actiq for several years due to chronic pain from a modified radical neck dissection as a result of throat & tongue cancer.The 400mcg lollipops have been a God send as far as relieving the breakthrough pain when nothing else seemed to work.Like most others virtually all of me teeth have been destroyed. I have spent over $10.000 out of pocket besides hat my insurance has payed. I pray that a medication that doesn’t have this horrible side effect will soon come to market.

  3. Rich Reply

    I am yet another Actiq/fentanyl citrate user that has spent over $50,000 over a period of 7 years on dental work due to this product. I have suffered from severe chronic cervical pain from an auto accident in 1977. The 1st of 2 surgeries to remove and fuse discs at two levels was a miserable failure due to the surgeon using methromethacrolate (plastic) to fuse the vertebrae. It didn’t fuse a one level and took me 3 1/2 years, and exactly twelve specialists, to diagnose the problem. Those 3 1/2 years of non-fusion left me with permanent nerve damage and severe chronic pain. The Actiq’s helped were very effective for the pain but the costs for dental repair have been financially devastating. I still need 5 more extractions with bone preservation material ($1,500) and a partial (bridge) which is an additional $1,700.00. I,ve also started suffering renal distress that adds to the problems of pain meds effecting the body over a period of long time use. I’m not “sue-happy” but I wish there the folks like me could start a class action suit against the drug manufacturer over the damage this product has caused to our teeth. If anyone has a good idea I hope they will voice it.

  4. sharahulda Reply

    I just called the company to ask what could be done. They told me to write a letter to explaining everything to:
    The Legal Offices
    TEVA North America
    4251 Privet Road
    Horsham, Pa.
    19044
    Don’t know what will happen, but if they receive enough letters they might think twice about doing something. I’m not asking for pain and suffering just to get my teeth repaired so I don’t look like a homeless person which I will be if I have to pay out of pocket for this dental care.
    Good luck to all of you.
    Shara

  5. Jim Reply

    same story re; Actiq use and extensive tooth decay. have also had problems with fentanyl patches and breathing and loss of consciousness causing falls and broken shoulder and ribs. am no surprised at number of problems associated with these meds, just with lack of response from attorneys. good luck to everyone and God bless.

  6. Kelly Reply

    As it is time consuming to read these, I’ll simply add that it is the same story. Major traffic accident. Prescribed Actiq. Got off of it after about 3 years (the withdrawal was a four-day ticket to Hell-on-Earth), subsequently watched my teeth begin rotting as if I were using acid for mouthwash.

    They are ALL gone now (cut off at the gumline as if by a chainsaw), but not the infections, the extreme difficulty in eating anything solid & the overwhelming pain my mouth puts me through day after day.

    One other MAJOR similarity to so many here is the inability to locate a lawyer or lawfirm with the skill, the smarts and the determination to file a class action on behalf of everyone here and anyone else who have been victimized by the makers of Actiq. There was NO WARNING that severe tooth decay was a guaranteed side-effect. Not even a hint.

    Getting $100k per victim should be a piece of cake, and if this were only for the 100 or so people who posted here, that would put $5M in the lawyer’s pocket if he/she demanded 50% of such a settlement, leaving each viction $50k to get their teeth fixed. I actually think a jury would award a great deal MORE than that(!) once informed of all the facts. $100k per victim is truly peanuts in a case like this. So where are the brave, smart and justice-seeking attorneys? Where are you??? We may not have been killed by an overdose, but we ARE slowly being KILLED OFF by starvation, stress and the oral diseases we are now experiencing.

  7. Jim Reply

    I started using the Actiq suckers so long ago I don’t remember, but at least seven years ago. I then started on the 1200MCG but soon escalated to 1600MCG which I took 12X daily. I took this dose for five years and then my doctor said that the FDA said that these meds could only be prescribed by Pain specialist or to people suffering from Cancer. I then took Oxycontin 80MG 12X daily for my pain and Dilaudid 8MG 10X daily for breakthrough Pain. My teeth started crumbling at the gum line as everyone has said. I have had $10.000.00 in dental work done and this is really just a bandaide on the problem. I have some teeth with implants which are loose now. I have called several dentists about getting the dental work done and the possibility of litigation and needing them as an expert witness and all declined to become involved. Most probably I’m going to have to have my remaining teeth extracted and wear dentures for cosmetic reasons. I’m 59 and not too concerned about anything but the health ramifications of having rotting teeth. I have contacted several personal injury lawyers about this problem but Texas enacted a $250,000.00 cap on awards unless your damages were fatal under the guise of tort reform. The insurance companies and large corporations were behind these bills being passed. What was really done was to get them off the hook for their misdeeds past and future. Trial lawyers were vilified as thieves and robbers and shown to be getting unfairly large judgements for their clients. I am always reminded of Ford Motor Co. and the decision not to correct a $.50 part on the Ford Pinto which caused the car to burst into flames when struck from the rear. Ford decided that it was cheaper to pay the costs of litigation and damages than to rectify the problem. So if you were a passenger or driver in the car and were burned to death “TOUGH LUCK”. This is why there should be punitive damages of a magnitude that these corps. are dissuaded from making purely economic decisions based strictly on the bottom line. Of course if you can buy the courts, why worry. This unfortunately has become the case in most states and certainly in the federal civil courts. Covidian has certainly made the decision

  8. Sandi Reply

    I was in a car accident back in 1998 and I was diagnosed with a herniated disc and degenerative disc disease along with stenosis both cervical and lumbar as well as Fibromyalgia. I was put on MS Contein 900mgs per day which was way too high a dose. I went to a different doctor and was put on 60 mgs 4 times a day with 15 mgs 4 times a day for break through pain.Then due to stomach surgery I could no longer be on any time released medicine so they changed it to Morphine sulfate immediate release and I have been on morphine for over 14 years and now they have changed it to 8mgs of Dilaudid 4 times a day because the morphine was no longer controlling my pain. I went to the dentist twice a year for cleanings and brushed my teeth after every meal and at bed time and flossed everyday. I carried a gallon size jug of ice water with me everywhere I went because the medicine caused dry mouth,which was one of the side effects written on the leaflet that came with my prescription, but it never mentioned that it could cause tooth decay. I had beautiful strong teeth, never once did the doctor, dentist or pharmacist warn me about tooth decay and it was never on any information or side effects from the pharmaceutical company. then they started to rot away where my back tooth started to crack piece by piece till I had to have it pulled. Then I noticed that I was getting a black spot on the gum line and I went to the dentist and it was at that time 13 years later I was told that I had 16 cavities and they pulled 4 teeth and several fillings were done,but my insurance only covered 2 filings per year and so I paid to have 4 filings done but then my husband was killed in a car accident and being on disability I could not afford to pay to have any more work done on my teeth. Even with constant brushing and flossing my gums are always swollen and get infected constantly causing pain and bleeding.I am only 48 years old and my Mother is 73 years old and she still has all her teeth and they are extremely healthy and if it wasn’t for the narcotics mine would be the same way. I have a picture of my teeth from back in 1999 from my dentist which show how beautiful they were and now I suffer everyday with mouth, teeth and gum pain. I use the Biotine spray and mouth wash but that has not slowed or stopped the decaying. I take additional medications, and one of them that I was on for just a short time had a list of side effects and it listed dry mouth which can lead to tooth decay. So the pharmaceutical companies know that dry mouth can cause and will cause tooth decay after prolonged use, so why are the companies that sell narcotics not listing it on their warnings and side effects? I need thousands of dollars to fix my teeth so that I can smile again and try to repair and replace my missing teeth, but as long as I am on the narcotics which I will for the rest of my life, I don’t see a solution other than implants for all my teeth or dentures. I want the pharmaceutical companies to pay for implants and the other costs to repair my teeth, plus I want them to pay for all the pain and suffering I have been through, and I want it made mandatory that they put warning labels on their medications so people can try and prevent tooth decay from the start. I live in SC and I am willing to file an individual claim against the companies or a class action suit, either way I want them to be held responsible for what they have put me through and others like me.

  9. Jan Reply

    Ditto. 1) has anyone successfully sued the makers of actiq for dental damages?
    2) does anyone know if there is a class action suit pending?

  10. N/A Reply

    There isn’t any question that actiq CAUSES dental problems including infections and tooth decay. Denying this is worse than the idiots that use to deny that smoking caused lung diseases.
    The truth WILL come out. LIKE SMOKING DID!!!!!!!!

  11. Marie Reply

    I was on actiq lozenges for approximately 5 years due to sever back pain after my surgery. I was in so much pain I never realized that it was rotting my teeth. When I read the side effects it never mentioned anything about a chance of tooth decay or tooth loss. Now I lost all my teeth I look like I have meth mouth. I have a full denture plate for my top teeth and now I have to have all my bottom teeth surgically removed cause they all broke at the base of my gums. I am hoping someone is responsible for this and will foot the bill for all this dental work and the pain and suffering.

  12. David Reply

    I also lost ALL MY TEETH and also on SSDI which will pay for no dental work. I had to have surgery to have remnants of the roots removed. I did win a lawsuit but my luck MY ATTORNEY WAS ARRESTED FOR FRAUD AND WAS IMPRISONED. When I received my files both he and Cephalon conspired and altered the dates and the addendum for the cost and implant document were missing. I have NO ONE TO GO TO. NO LAWYER WILL TOUCH THE CASE. TO ALL WHO ARE GOING TO HIRE A LAWYER RECORD ALL YOUR CONVERSATIONS REMEMBER TO DOCUMENT TIMES AND DATES.

  13. ReNae Reply

    Same story here…both my son and I have a genetic bone condition which causes severe pain. Both of us were prescribed actiq for breakthrough pain. He started the lollipops about 2 years before I did. He is now 30 and has a brand new set of dentures. I have so much damage to my teeth I cannot eat. I’ve lost 10 lbs! I was skinny to begin with!
    The dental costs are astronomical! Who can help us? All anyone has to do is look at these comments that span YEARS! Do we have any recourse? We are both disabled so rely on social security, and now this? I don’t know what I’m going to do!

  14. Sami Reply

    I’m not that interested in a class action suit, but I’m definitely interested in litigation against Cephalon, the maker of Actiq Lollipops, asap. I’ve included the details of my situation in the confidential area of this page, and would like for an attorney to contact me. Thank you.

  15. Richard Reply

    Besides posting on this site about Actiq (fentanyl citrate suckers) _**see comments under Rich** I also experience a near death experience from what my pain management physician of 14 years prescribed for me. I was using Subsys 1600 mg, Morphine (injectable) Oxycontin 80mg. I never had a difficulties until the Subsys was prescibed. I ended up being hospitalized on 3 occasions in 2013 for a total of 55 days. All were for drug overdoses. Most surprising is that the prescribing physician never once sat me down and advised that maybe we should change my prescriptions. The last incident landed me in the hospital for 45 days and included the attending physician advising my family that I would never breathe again on my own and I should be disconnected from the ventilator. They pushed the forms at my wife to sign and she would not. She felt strongly that I would recover and within two days I was already showing marked improvement. I’ve spent hours consulting with attorneys and their para-legals and cannot find representation to save my life. I believe my doctor was negligent in prescribing all these medications, that the attending physician was irresponsible and plain wrong (obviously) for wanted to bury me, and, to bring this full circle, believe the manufacturers of the fentanyl suckers should pay for the (just an estimate) $45,000 additional dental work I will require to restore my dental work. Like everyone on this site I am irate and incredulous that there isn’t an attorney that will represent me in these issues. Isn’t there any recourse and justice for all of us that have suffered so terribly?

  16. Jason Reply

    I was born with a congenital heart defect which causes pericarditis type chest pain.
    From 2001-2005 I was prescribed 15 / 400mcg Actiq lollipops a day, yes 15 a day. After the first year of use, I began to experience horrific tooth decay. I have spent $40,000 to date on dental work. However the worst part of my Actiq use caused a tooth infection that went straight to my heart causing bacterial endocarditis. As a result of this infection I underwent immediate open heart surgery which I nearly died from. I was in a comma for two weeks. I’m 40 years old now and completely disabled from that infection. My total losses are $40,000 in dental work, $500,000 open heart surgery, and $1,000,000 in lost wages. I’m 100% disabled since the dental infection in 2009.
    Actiq has destroyed my life.

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