Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is the strongest pain medication on the prescription market today – 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule II drug which means that any prescription for the drug must be written in triplicate form, with one copy retained by the physician, one by the pharmacy and one copy is sent to the health department of the state in which the prescription was written.
Because of its powerful pain killing abilities, Fentanyl is commonly included in the array of drugs used to induce anesthesia for surgery. Fentanyl was first synthesized by Dr. Paul Janssen in 1960. Since that time, the drug has been made available in prescription form in a wide variety of formulations, including the fentanyl lollipop (Actiq), the fentanyl sublingual spray (Subsys), and the fentanyl pain patch (Duragesic).
What is the Fentanyl Patch?
A Fentanyl patch is a drug patch similar to the patch that most people are familiar with, Nicoderm. However, instead of delivering a smoking cessation drug, a Fentanyl patch delivers a powerful opioid pain medication called Fentanyl. Fentanyl patches were first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1990 and are only approved to treat persistent, chronic pain that has not responded to less potent pain medications. Furthermore, a patient must be tolerant to opioids in order to be a candidate for Fentanyl patch therapy.
Each Fentanyl patch is to be worn for three days, during which time the patch is intended to release the drug in a constant and even amount. When a patch is applied, the skin under the system absorbs the Fentanyl, and a depot of Fentanyl is created in the upper skin layers. The Fentanyl in these skin layers then becomes available for absorption into the blood. Peak blood levels of Fentanyl typically occur 24 to 72 hours after initial patch application and are intended to reach a steady state with continuous use. The size of the patch determines the dose it delivers.
An overdose of Fentanyl can be lethal. When a Fentanyl patch leaks or is defective in some way and delivers an uncontrolled and unintended amount of Fentanyl to a patient, death is almost certain to occur. When Fentanyl comes into direct contact with a person’s skin, often as a result of a leaky patch, it may cause serious and potentially fatal side effects.
Once an overdose of Fentanyl occurs, a person will begin to experience impaired breathing and respiratory depression, which, if not treated immediately, leads to death. Signs of an overdose from a defective Fentanyl patch often include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Shallow breathing
- Extreme sleepiness/sedation
- Inability to walk or talk normally
- Faint, dizzy or confused feelings
Fentanyl Lawsuits Filed By Heygood, Orr & Pearson
In connection with the hundreds of fentanyl lawsuits filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson on behalf of their clients, the attorneys at the firm have examined under oath hundreds of drug company executives, scientists, engineers, physicians and manufacturing workers. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has also retained the best expert witnesses in the country in the areas of toxicology, pathology, pharmaceutical manufacturing and patch technology.
In addition, Heygood, Orr & Pearson has obtained millions of pages of documents from the drug companies related to fentanyl patches, which have been reviewed, analyzed and cataloged In doing so, Heygood, Orr & Pearson has amassed by far the most extensive library and collection of documents and depositions related to Fentanyl patches in existence. In many ways, the documents and depositions in the Heygood, Orr & Pearson Fentanyl library is more extensive than any in the possession of the pharmaceutical companies.
Legal Proceedings Involving Fentanyl Cases
In the very first jury trial by the lawyers of Heygood, Orr & Pearson against makers of a Fentanyl transdermal pain patch, a Florida jury awarded a $5.5 million verdict to the family of Adam Hendleson, a man who died while wearing a Duragesic Fentanyl pain patch. Jim Orr, partner at Heygood, Orr & Pearson and lead trial attorney in the Hendelson case told the New York Times, “Tests showed that Adam had three times the lethal dose of Fentanyl in his system at the time of his death.”
More recently, Heygood, Orr & Pearson obtained a $16,560,000 judgment for the family of a Cicero, Illinois woman who died while wearing a Duragesic Fentanyl transdermal pain patch. After a three-week trial, a Chicago jury found two Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries liable for the death of 38-year-old Janice DiCosolo, a mother of three. Mrs. DiCosolo died as a result of using a defective Duragesic patch that her doctor had prescribed to alleviate the intense pain she experienced from a neurological condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
Michael Heygood, a partner at Heygood, Orr & Pearson and trial attorney in the Dicosolo case, stated after the trial, “Janice Dicosolo is dead because the companies that made her Fentanyl patch refused to put the health, safety and welfare of their customers ahead of their corporate greed. It is gratifying when a jury listens and makes a decision based upon the evidence and not upon unsupported arguments by a company refusing to take responsibility for their action.”
Hurt by the Fentanyl Pain Patch? Get Help!
Heygood, Orr & Pearson is the leading law firm in the United States representing family members in lawsuits against fentanyl patch manufacturers and distributors. Our attorneys have represented more families who have lost a loved one from a defective Fentanyl patch and tried more lawsuits against the manufacturers of defective pain patches than all other lawyers in the country combined. Our law firm has also settled more cases against the manufacturers of defective patches than all other lawyers throughout the United States.
If you or a loved one has experienced the tragedy of losing a family member as a result of Fentanyl pain patch usage, you and your family deserve answers to your questions, and if the loss was as a result of a defective Fentanyl patch, to demand that the drug company be held responsible.
Contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson so we can determine whether you are eligible to file a fentanyl lawsuit and receive compensation for your injuries. For more information about whether you are eligible to file a case, call our toll-free hotline at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free case evaluation form located on this page.