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Lawsuits Filed against Makers of Fentanyl Patches

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New York, NYFentanyl lawsuits have been filed against the makers of fentanyl patches, alleging the patches are responsible for the death and injury of loved ones. Although the fentanyl patches—sometimes sold under the Duragesic patch brand—are used to treat pain, they are very strong medications and some serious fentanyl side effects have been reported.

One wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Mylan Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Mylan Technologies, Inc., alleging the companies manufactured a fentanyl patch that caused the death of a woman. The lawsuit was filed by the woman's husband, who alleged she died approximately one month after receiving a fentanyl prescription from having an excessive amount of fentanyl delivered to her bloodstream.

According to The Pennsylvania Record (06/09/11), the lawsuit claims that the defendants were negligent in not knowing that patients had died after using the pain patches as prescribed. The lawsuit claims the victim, Patricia Shemelia, died in September 2009 with a blood fentanyl concentration 17 times higher than the level a properly functioning fentanyl pain patch should provide.

Some fentanyl lawsuits have already been heard in court. In a lawsuit filed by the family of Janice DiCosolo, who died in February 2004 after allegedly receiving a defective pain patch, the defendants were ordered to pay $16.6 million. That judgment was upheld in July 2011, by the First District of the Illinois Court of Appeals, which ruled that Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and ALZA Corporation would have to pay the plaintiffs the awarded amount.

According to American Association for Justice (03/09), DiCosolo had reflexive sympathetic dystrophy and required pain medication so she could function. One method of receiving pain medication was through the fentanyl pain patch. Just a few days before receiving a notice about the pain patch recall, Janice died in her sleep after having changed her patch.

Fentanyl is a very strong opioid and is meant only for use in patients who are opioid-tolerant. It is administered via a pain patch that has a membrane at the bottom, which is supposed to regulate the release of fentanyl into the patient's bloodstream. In some situations, however, the fentanyl medication has come into contact with the patient's skin through a defect in the patch.


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