Astoundingly, although experts found that the Duragesic Pain Patch was involved in the death of hundreds of people, Johnson & Johnson left the patch on the market, risking the lives of thousands of other patients. Now, angry consumers are fighting back, filing lawsuits against the company they allege is responsible for the death of loved ones.
One lawsuit saw a jury award the plaintiff $5.5 million, after his son died while wearing a Duragesic patch. The victim had chronic hip pain and used the Duragesic patch to manage that pain. When he died, he allegedly had over three times the lethal level of fentanyl in his system.
In making the award, the jury noted that Johnson & Johnson officials knew about defects in the Duragesic Pain Patch but did not adequately warn medical professionals or the public about the risk. That ruling will likely have an impact on the hundreds of other lawsuits that have already been filed, not to mention potential lawsuits that are currently being investigated.
If there were just one case of a person dying while using the Duragesic Pain Patch, it might be an easier issue to dismiss. But this young man was not the first person to die while using the pain patch and he certainly was not the last. Furthermore, many of the victims have died while using the patch as prescribed—to alleviate their chronic pain. The problem is not in how they used the Duragesic Pain Patch but in how the patch was designed.
Specifically, the design of the patch allows fentanyl gel, a highly concentrated substance, to leak onto the skin, causing an overdose.
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In many cases, the courts have sided with the plaintiffs in Duragesic lawsuits, finding that the patch was defectively manufactured and that Johnson & Johnson failed to provide adequate warnings regarding the risks associated with that defect.
Of course, all this could have been avoided if Johnson & Johnson had permanent pulled the Duragesic patch off the market when reports of deaths associated with the patch surfaced. Instead, the company claimed the product was safe, recalled it briefly and then resumed sales, putting more people's lives at risk.
If you or someone you love was injured by a Duragesic Pain Patch, contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options.