Manufactured by Alza Corporation and Janssen Pharmaceutica Products (Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries), Duragesic (fentanyl transdermal system) is a pain patch that contains an extremely strong opioid pain medication called fentanyl. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine, thus the Duragesic pain patch is approved only to treat patients suffering from moderate to severe chronic pain. Each patch has a reservoir that contains fentanyl in a gel form. The patch also contains a rate control membrane that is designed to provide steady dosing of fentanyl over three days (72 hours).
Duragesic Recalls and FDA Warnings
In February 2004, Janssen recalled one lot of Duragesic patches because of seal breaches, which can allow the drug to leak from the patch. The recall notice warned that “exposure to the Duragesic hydrogel contents could result in an increased absorption of the opioid component, fentanyl, leading to increased drug effect, including nausea, sedation, drowsiness, or potentially life threatening complications.” Janssen also later recalled additional lots. Duragesic product photos on FDA.gov can show you how to identify what lot number a Duragesic patch came from.
In July of 2005, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory, warning that “deaths and overdoses have occurred in patients using both the brand name product Duragesic and the generic product.”
The FDA issued a second Public Health Advisory in December of 2007 as part of this continuing investigation. The alert stated, “The FDA has continued to receive reports of deaths and life-threatening side effects after doctors have inappropriately prescribed the patch or after people incorrectly used it.”
Danger of Duragesic
Although the Duragesic product label was modified in 2005 to include new safety information, the drug is still available today and is causing serious concerns across the country. Reports claim the number of fatalities linked to fentanyl transdermal patch use number in the thousands. The cause of these deaths can be due to seal breaches allowing fentanyl gel to leak from the patch, defects involving malfunction of the rate control membrane or other issues.
Cases Won on Behalf of Duragesic Victims
Heygood, Orr & Pearson is the leading law firm in litigation involving fentanyl transdermal pain patches.
On June 19, 2007, a $5.5 million jury verdict was awarded in a case against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Alza Corporation, the manufacturers of the Duragesic fentanyl transdermal pain patch. This case, the first Federal trial involving the Duragesic fentanyl patch, was tried in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division. The verdict was achieved by Heygood, Orr & Pearson for the family of Adam Hendelson, a 28-year-old Florida man who died while wearing a Duragesic fentanyl patch.
On November 17, 2008, HO&P achieved a $16,560,000 verdict for the family of a Cicero, Illinois woman who died while wearing a Duragesic fentanyl transdermal pain patch. On February 15, 2004, 38-year-old Janice 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.” After a three-week trial, a Chicago jury found two Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries liable for the death of Mrs. DiCosolo, a mother of three.
We have worked with many individuals and families who have been injured by dangerous drugs. If you or a loved one has suffered injury, or a family member has died as a result of using any brand of fentanyl transdermal pain patch, please contact us for a free consultation.
Duragesic Trial News Articles:
- 7/10/07 – The Legal Broadcast Network – Civil Action Radio Features Interview with Trial Team on Duragesic Fentanyl Patch $5.5M Verdict
- 6/19/07 – Bloomberg.com – J&J Units Ordered to Pay $5.5 Million in Patch Case
- 6/19/07 – CBS moneywatch.com – Heygood, Orr, Reyes & Bartolomei: $5.5 Million Award in First Federal Fentanyl Patch Trial
- 6/19/07 – NYTimes.com – Companies Lose Drug Patch Suit
- 11/17/08 – Marketwire.com – Jury Awards $16.5 Million in Fentanyl Death Case
Interviews & Appearances:
- 6/26/07 – Civil Action Radio – Jim Orr Podcast Interview regarding the June 19 Duragesic Fentanyl Settlement