Thousands of patients were improperly prescribed a highly potent and restricted class of fentanyl, an opioid 100 times more powerful than morphine, between 2012 and 2017, research published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found. Anywhere from 34.6 to 55.4 percent of patients, or about 12,900 people who received prescriptions for the drug were "opioid-nontolerant" or were not suffering the "breakthrough pain" that the drug is mean to treat. The FDA created a program to monitor prescription of the drug in 2011, but drug companies, doctors, pharmacists, and other professionals failed to minimize the use of the drug, the study found. Fentanyl was involved in about 28 percent of drug overdose deaths in 2016, more than any other drug.

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