New Jersey family plans wrongful death lawsuit over fatal overdose caused by fentanyl spray Subsys

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by Jim Orr

The family of a New Jersey woman who died of a fentanyl overdose plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer of the fentanyl spray Subsys and the doctor who prescribed the drug. The family alleges that Vivienne Matalon, the doctor who treated Sarah Fuller for chronic pain, prescribed the Subsys at the urging of a representative of the company that manufacturers the fentanyl spray.

According to the Fuller family, Sarah visited Matalon’s office last year seeking a pain prescription to treat her chronic pain and fibromyalgia. At her appointment with Matalon, the doctor brought Fuller and her family into a conference room where a sales representative for Insys, the manufacturer of the Subsys fentanyl spray, spoke to them about the drug.

Fuller was prescribed Subsys to treat her chronic pain, even though the drug is intended only for cancer patients or other patients with severe breakthrough pain. Over little more than a year, Fuller used nearly $250,000 worth of Subsys, taking the fentanyl spray once every four hours. Fuller’s parents say that after a few months, she began to experience withdrawal symptoms if she was even a few minutes late for her dose.

After more than a year of using Subsys, Fuller was found dead in her bedroom. The autopsy confirmed that she had died of a fentanyl overdose.

An investigation conducted by the state of New Jersey found that neither Fuller nor her parents had been warned about the dangers of fentanyl or Subsys. Fentanyl is about 80-100 times more potent than morphine. Even a small amount of the drug can cause an overdose. For this reason, fentanyl is only approved by the FDA to treat opioid tolerant patients with severe pain, such as cancer patients.

The lawsuit being prepared by attorneys for the Fuller family alleges that Matalon committed a breach of ethics by allowing an Insys representative to speak with their daughter during her doctor’s visit. Matalon’s medical license was temporarily suspended by New Jersey officials following an investigation into the case.

Insys has faced other charges related to its sales efforts for the Subsys fentanyl spray. Lawsuits filed by the states of Illinois and Oregon alleged that the company engaged in deceptive and irresponsible marketing practices in regard to Subsys. Insys later settled the lawsuit filed in Oregon. The lawsuit filed in Illinois over the company’s Subsys marketing is still pending.

Insys was also investigated by federal health officials in connection with the company’s marketing of Subsys. Federal investigators have alleged that Insys deliberately promoted the fentanyl spray for off-label use despite the fact that this practice is prohibited by the FDA.

Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Fentanyl Overdose Victims

If you or a loved one have suffered a fentanyl overdose or a combined drug overdose caused by interactions between fentanyl and another medication, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. The first step in finding out if you qualify is to talk with an attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and guide you through the first steps of filing a case.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have represented numerous patients who have suffered complications from opioid painkillers, including fentanyl. Our law firm has handled more cases involving the fentanyl pain patch than all other firms in the U.S. – combined. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has achieved verdicts and settlements in fentanyl lawsuits on behalf of our clients totaling tens of millions of dollars.

For a free legal consultation from an attorney to find out if you are eligible to file a fentanyl case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free case evaluation form located at the top of this page.