Pennsylvania family files wrongful death lawsuit against Actiq fentanyl lollipop manufacturers

by Jim Orr

The family of a Pennsylvania man who died from an overdose caused by the fentanyl lollipop Actiq has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturers of the drug. The lawsuit accuses the drug makers Cephalon and Teva Pharmaceuticals (which acquired Cephalon in 2011) of illegally marketing the fentanyl lollipop to treat migraines in violation of FDA rules.

Fentanyl – the active ingredient in Actiq – is an extremely powerful painkiller that is about 80-100 times more powerful than morphine. Actiq – which was approved by the FDA in 1998 – is a fentanyl lozenge-on-a-stick that is twirled in the mouth to treat severe pain.

According to the family’s lawsuit, Joey Caltagirone began treatment for migraines at the office of Dr. Thomas C. Barone in 2005. Dr. Barone prescribed opioid painkillers, including the Actiq fentanyl lollipop, to Caltagirone in order to treat migraines. Between 2005 and 2011, Dr. Barone prescribed 5,918 fentanyl lollipops to Caltagirone. Eventually, he became addicted to opioids, including OxyContin, Percocet, and Actiq. Caltagirone died in 2014 from an overdose of methadone, which had also been prescribed by Dr. Barone.

Caltagirone’s family filed a malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and CVS Pharmacy, which filled the patient’s prescriptions. The family eventually reached settlements of $975,000 and $165,000 with the doctor’s insurance company and CVS, respectively.

Prior to the lawsuit, Dr. Barone had faced two additional lawsuits filed on behalf of patients who had died from an opioid overdose. After a fourth patient under the doctor’s care died of an prescription painkiller overdose, he was required by the Pennsylvania Board of Osteopathic Medicine to undergo training and assessment during an 18-month suspension of his medical license.

During their investigation into the case, attorneys representing the Caltagirone family discovered marketing literature for the Actiq fentanyl lollipop in their son’s medical file at Dr. Barone’s office. The document, entitled “Actiq in Migraine” had been produced by Cephalon to promote the fentanyl lollipop to treat patients with headaches. Actiq has only been approved by the FDA to treat opioid tolerant patients with severe pain. Federal law prohibits marketing FDA-approved drugs for “off-label” uses that have not been approved by the agency.

The Caltagirone family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Cephalon and Teva. The lawsuit alleged that Cephalon was responsible for Joey Caltagirone’s opioid addiction because of its off-label marketing of Actiq as a treatment for migraine headaches.

Caltagirone’s attorney argues that the off-label prescription of fentanyl and other opioid painkillers has played a key role in the epidemic of addiction, abuse, and overdose caused by these medications in the U.S. According to the CDC, at least 14,000 Americans died in 2014 as a result of an overdose caused by prescription opioid painkillers. Opioid overdoses have climbed steadily in recent years, helping to make prescription drug overdoses the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.

Victims of Prescription Opioid Overdoses May Qualify to File a Lawsuit

The overprescription of prescription painkillers has produced disastrous consequences for patients in the U.S. Thousands of patients have become addicted to opioids or suffered an overdose as a result of their use of these drugs.

Despite warnings from the FDA, the pharmaceutical industry has aggressively promoted opioid painkillers to doctors, ignoring the health consequences that this campaign may have for patients. Doctors who indiscriminately prescribe opioids to their patients have also contributed to the epidemic of painkiller overdoses in the U.S.

Victims of opioid overdoses or other serious complications caused by opioid overprescription may be eligible to file a lawsuit against manufacturer of the drug, or the doctor or hospital that was responsible for your injuries. Families who have lost a loved one to an opioid overdose may also qualify to file a lawsuit.

The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has the experience with opioid litigation to handle your case from start to finish. Our law firm has handled more cases involving the fentanyl pain patch than all other law firms in the country combined. Our law firm

Heygood, Orr & Pearson has also represented numerous individuals who have suffered overdose, addiction, or other complications from opioid painkiller prescriptions. Our firm has both the training and experience to prosecute medical malpractice cases involving a wide array of other serious opioid painkillers, including Vicodin and hydrocodone, OxyContin and oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, and other medications.

If you or a loved one has suffered an overdose or other complications resulting from opioid painkillers, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson to learn more about how we can help. For more information about whether you may be eligible to file a case, contact our law 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 brief questions to get started.

by Jim Orr

Jim Orr is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P focusing on business and personal injury litigation. Jim was selected multiple times to the Super Lawyers List and has tried 70+ cases to verdict.