Out in the Open

Doctor's orders: Husband speaks out about his wife's fatal fentanyl prescription

Greg Carney wants fentanyl off the shelves after his wife, Ann, died from a prescription to it.
Boxes of fentanyl patches are seen at a pharmacy in Laval, Que., on Thursday, January 26, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

Ann Carney's hip pain began seven years ago. It caused sensory nerve damage that left her in so much pain that nothing, including clothes, could touch her leg.

After four unsuccessful surgeries, pain clinics prescribed drugs like OxyContin, and eventually fentanyl, to ease her pain. For the next five years, Ann used a fentanyl patch. Soon, she started to notice the painkiller had serious side effects. 

"I didn't know what fentanyl was, I'd never really heard of it," says Ann's husband, Greg Carney, "I'm not sure if Ann had even heard of it, but she took the prescription as prescribed and listened to the doctor and trusted his profession." 
Ann Carney (Courtesy of Greg Carney)

Greg soon got used to calling ambulances for Ann after she began fainting, something that Greg says happened dozens of times after she began taking fentanyl.

Then, one night, Greg thought Ann had fallen asleep on the couch. He tried waking her up and discovered she had, in fact, died. He says a toxicology report showed that Ann had two and a half times the lethal limit in her system.

"I think prescribed fentanyl should just be taken off the shelves," Greg says.

"My wife died from following that exact rule of doing the prescription and handling it as prescribed by a doctor. That's it. It doesn't ring true that it's safe to use under a doctor's guidance."