New Jersey family files wrongful death lawsuit over daughter’s death from a Subsys fentanyl overdose

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by Jim Orr

The family of a New Jersey woman who died from an overdose of the fentanyl spray Subsys has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a doctor and a mail-order pharmacy in New York that supplied her with the drug. The lawsuit – filed by Deborah and David Fuller on behalf of their daughter, Sarah – alleges that she should never have been prescribed Subsys to treat her chronic head and neck pain. The Fullers allege that Sarah’s doctor prescribed more than $250,000 worth of the fentanyl spray, due in part to the aggressive marketing efforts of a sale reps for Insys, the company that manufactures the drug.

For about 10 years prior to her death, Sarah Fuller suffered from head and neck pain resulting from a pair of car accidents. The pain eventually became so unbearable that she was forced to quit her job as a nurse’s aide. She was prescribed large quantities of opioid painkillers, which caused kidney damage. She was later able to stop taking the opioids by quitting cold turkey, but her head and neck pain persisted.

Fuller began seeing a new doctor, internal medicine physician Vivienne Matalon. Based on Fuller’s prior problems with opioid painkillers, Dr. Matalon said that she would keep Sarah off these drugs.

However, within two months, Dr. Matalon began prescribing the opioid drugs Percocet and OxyContin to Sarah. Later, Dr. Matalon arranged a meeting with Sarah and her family, which was also attended by an Insys sales representative. The sales rep convinced Sarah to start taking Subsys, a fentanyl spray that was approved by the FDA to treat patients with cancer pain, not the head and neck pain from which Sarah was suffering.

Over the next year, Dr. Matalon continued to prescribe Subsys for Sarah. Between January 2015 – when she started taking Subsys – and her death in March 2016, Sarah received monthly packages containing her Subsys prescription. Over the year that she was taking the drug, Medicaid paid more than $250,000 for Sarah’s Subsys prescriptions.

About one year after Sarah began taking Subsys, her fiancé found her dead on the floor of their Stratford, New Jersey home from a fentanyl overdose. Sarah Fuller was 32 at the time of her death.

Sarah’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Matalon, Linden Care – the mail-order pharmacy that filled her fentanyl prescriptions – and Insys. The lawsuit alleged that Insys had illegally promoted Subsys to Sarah and other patients, and that Dr. Matalon had acted irresponsibly by arranging the meeting between Sarah, her family, and the Insys sales rep. The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners later suspended Dr. Matalon medical license in October 2016, citing Sarah’s case and two other patients who had been prescribed Subsys by the doctor.

In addition to personal injury lawsuits like the one filed by the family of Sarah Fuller, Insys has also faced lawsuits filed by state and local attorney generals over the company’s marketing of the Subsys spray. These lawsuits have alleged that Insys paid illegal kickbacks to doctors to encourage them to prescribe Subsys to patients.

Fentanyl Overdose Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

If you have lost a loved one as a result of an overdose caused by Subsys or other fentanyl products, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, the doctor who prescribed the drug, or the pharmacy that issued the prescription. The first step in filing a fentanyl lawsuit is to speak with an experienced attorney to learn more about your legal rights and find out if you qualify to file a case.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed more lawsuits on behalf of fentanyl overdose victims than all other law firms in the country combined. In one lawsuit filed by our firm against a fentanyl patch manufacturer, a jury awarded $5.5 million in damages to the family of a Florida man who died from an overdose caused by a fentanyl patch marketed under the brand name Duragesic. Our firm also obtained a $16.56 million judgment against two Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries in a case filed on behalf of the family of an Illinois woman who died from an overdose caused by a fentanyl pain patch.

In addition to the hundreds of lawsuits filed on behalf of manufacturers of fentanyl products, many lawsuits have also been filed against doctors, hospitals, or medical staff who inappropriately prescribed fentanyl products to their patients. Some of these lawsuits have involved including fentanyl prescriptions that were issued to patients who were taking other CNS-depressant medications, placing them at risk of a combined drug overdose.

For more information about the fentanyl claims filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson and to find out whether you may qualify to file a case, you can contact our firm by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions about your case to get started.