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Accidental fentanyl overdose sparks campaign about improper medication disposal

A Wisconsin woman whose son died after accidentally swallowing a fentanyl pain patch has started a campaign to warn about the dangers of improperly disposed medications.

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid painkiller that is about 100 times more potent than morphine. Because of its extreme potency, the drug is only prescribed to patients with severe pain who are already opioid tolerant.

Officials believe that Melissa Seamonson’s two year old son came into contact with the patch while visiting his grandmother at a nursing home. After the family returned home, Seamonson found her son unresponsive. An investigation of the nursing home found that the facility’s practice of simply throwing away used fentanyl patches could expose individuals who accidentally came into contact with them to a risk of overdose.

Seamonson has raised funds to put a billboard in Madison, Wisconsin to raise awareness about the danger of improper medication disposal. The billboard will go on display on October 29 and remain in place until the end of November.