Patch Problems? Characteristics of Transdermal Drug Delivery System Exposures Reported to the National Poison Data System

  • Stephen L. ThorntonEmail author
  • Micheal A. Darracq
Original Article



Transdermal drug delivery systems (TDDS) pose special risks considering a large amount of drug they contain and their modified release properties. We sought to characterize TDDS exposures reported to the National Poison Data System (NPDS).


NPDS was searched for all human exposures to a TDDS from 1/1/2006 to 12/31/2015. Only single-substance TDDS exposures followed to a known medical outcome were included for final analysis. Specific data analyzed was date, sex, age, TDDS product, exposure reason, route of exposure, medical outcome, management site, level of health care facility care, clinical effects, and interventions.


Over that 10-year period, 6746  adults and 1917 pediatric exposures were identified. Exposures declined over the study period. The most common exposure reason in adults was intentional abuse (n = 1622) compared to unintentional-general (n =1 070) in pediatric cases. TDDS ingestion was reported in 4519 adults and 2825 pediatric cases. Fentanyl was the most common substance encountered in adult (n = 4656) and pediatric cases (n = 474). No or minor effect were the most common medical outcomes in both groups. In fentanyl cases, moderate or major outcomes were seen in 54 % (n = 1062) of adult and 26 % (n = 54) of pediatric cases. Naloxone was given in 1080 cases. Ninety-seven deaths (91 adults, 6 pediatrics) were reported, all involving ingestion of the TDDS. Fentanyl was associated with 80 adult and 5 pediatric deaths.


Overall, single-substance TDDS exposures decreased over the duration of this study and typically resulted in no or mild effects. However, exposures involving fentanyl resulted in higher rates of major or moderate medical outcomes and were associated with multiple deaths.


Transdermal drug delivery system Patch Fentanyl Methylphenidate Naloxone 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest


Sources of Funding



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Copyright information

© American College of Medical Toxicology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Kansas Health System Poison Control CenterUniversity of Kansas HospitalKansas CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Emergency MedicineUniversity of California- San Francisco-FresnoFresnoUSA

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