Drug maker Cephalon Inc. sent letters to doctors this week warning them that several deaths have been linked to Fentora, its powerful narcotic to treat acute cancer pain.
Fentora and its predecessor, Actiq, are approved by the Food and Drug Administration only for use in cancer patients, but they are often prescribed by physicians "off-label" for such ailments as headaches and back pain.
Cephalon denies marketing the two drugs outside their indication, but its marketing practices are under scrutiny in three separate probes: investigations by the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia and the Connecticut attorney general, and a congressional probe into off-label treatments.
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