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Fentanyl Pain Patch Wrongful Death Lawsuit Results in $13.3 Million Verdict

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A Florida jury has returned a verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit that calls for Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries to pay $13.3 million to the family of a woman killed by their Duragesic fentanyl pain patch.

The lawsuit was filed in Seminole County, Florida by Susan Hodgemire’s husband and five children. The 34 years old mother died in June 2002 of a fentanyl overdose after placing two Duragesic pain patches on her skin for pain relief after back surgery.

Duragesic is the brand name for fentanyl pain patches, which are also now available under several generic labels.

They are designed to provide pain relief over an extended period of time by gradually releasing fentanyl directly through the skin in a controlled fashion. However, hundreds of fentanyl overdose deaths have been caused by manufacturing defects and inadequate warnings provided by the manufacturers.

The Seminole County Jury awarded the family $13.3 million on October 29, 2008, in the third fentanyl patch lawsuit to reach trial.

The first two fentanyl patch lawsuits to be decided by a jury resulted in combined verdicts of $6.3 million in favor of the plaintiffs. The first case was won in July 2006 by the family of a Texas woman and the second case was won in June 2007 by the family of a Florida man.

A fourth fentanyl pain patch was scheduled for trial to begin this week in Chicago.

Johnson & Johnson and their subsidiaries currently face over 60 Duragesic patch lawsuits according to an August 2008 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. However, lawyers investigating fentanyl patch cases are continuing to review other cases and the total number of lawsuits filed is expected to eventually top 200.

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Image via: Art Konovalov / Shutterstock.com

69 comments

  1. lisa Reply

    my father in law was given iv dose in prep for hip surgery and immediately had a major stroke – 4 attempts over 20 min. were tried to reverse without response – he had left brain event in eugene, oregon hospital, no stroke specialist or neurologist was consulted at the time of the event – hospitalist called 2o plus minutes later – they gave him little support, basically ready to usher him to usher him to next life within the week .. this was after he was admitted 2 months earlier and told he was end of life and was not being given any support or monitoring, although fully alert and oriented, just dehydrating him. any comments welcome

  2. Tom Reply

    My daughter died after taking a patch from a friend that was not hers. He knew she put it in her mouth, saw her breathing hard on a bed for hours and didn’t call for help. I now know of alot of kids ODing on these. They have a strict warning on them yet people ignore the warning. What can be done?

  3. Chandra Reply

    Its sad to hear all of these tragic stories, im 32 and my mother passed away Monday, Jan 31st 2011…..she had just turned 50, my mom was on othet meds (seditives) her toxicology repory stated acute fentynol intoxication. This was sudden and the worst day of my life. I feel for all of you, thx for sharing your stories. They say you should not take these patches with any type of seditive.

  4. Joyce Reply

    Although my mother was 82, when she passed September 10, 2011, she was in very good health. She had fallen a couple of times in the past few weeks, they had tried different pain medications on her. The last thing they tried was the fentanyl patch which my sister put on her on September 9, 2011 @ 11:00am. She was found dead the next morning, when my sister went in to wake her. Why are they still on the market if they cause death?

  5. james d Reply

    I use the fentynol patches. I got a patch that was defective one time, the sticky material was missing on onver 2/3 of the patch. I took back to walgreens to get a replacement patch, they said they would have to contact the company that made them. and I would receive one in the mail. like i had a choice, so i waited for the patch. They sent me a check for 13, what i paid for after insurance. Walgreens could have gave me one and they sent one to walgreens. I want back to walgreens mad demanding my patch back and the manager said he just tossed it in the trash last week. and we know it is supposed to be destroyed before being tossed. They should have been fined. I filed a complaint with walgreens, they didnt reply, i filed a complaint with the patch maker, and they sent me a letter stating they do a 100 percent inspection of each patch and I could not have got a bad patch. So how did i have to take a patch back with no sticky on it. It would have leaked out faster, could have been dangerous if ya think about it..

    their inspection guarentee has no meaning to me, inspect each patch yourself before applying. if it is missing some of the sticky material, dont use. good luck getting a replacement.. take pics for proof to post online!

  6. Colin Reply

    I lost my daughter on September 18, 2011 and I am almost certain it is from Fentanyl Toxicity..Her doctor had upped her dosage of the patch from 50 mg to 100 mg that Friday…On the same week on Sunday they found her in bed dead. She was only 43 years old..Life cut way too short too soon…

  7. Thomas Reply

    Wife of 58 years. Suffered broken hip, breast cancer, and then colon cancer; however, was in remission. Overprescribing doctor had her finally on three patches and allowed my wife to administer herself. Further added oxcodone and other drugs. Wife developed COPD, a direct side effect of all but especially Fentanyl. She started hallucinating but calls to doctor were hangups. Doctor did not see my wife when she sat up in bed and said, “Tom, I think I’m dying” but nurse arrived and through disinformation, my wife was dead four days later. Unknown to participants, another decent doctor had her examined at a Hospital several day previously and she had no cancer, some emphysema but not enough to worry the examiner, and was able to drive and work around the house. In other words, she was murdered by the medical system designed allegedly to save. It was deliberate and premeditated yet trying to get an investigation is becoming an exercise in futility.

  8. Lulu Reply

    My uncle died this past Saturday ); he used these patches, and he had been using then for about six months. He had a massive heart attack, its been a tough time! ): </3

  9. Terry Reply

    my heart breaks for all of you who have lost loved ones please do to the fentanall patch. v

    on 6/5 i turned 65 years old.. I knew this had to be a special birthday for me. my 29 year old daughter Carrie gave me the happiest birthday I’ve ever had. Carrie was the beautiful young mother of 4 amazing children. the next day june sixth she was very happy and bubbly and have a great day.
    Carrie was my heart. later sat evening I found her collapsed in a strange position on her bed. my daughter was dead. my son in law did cpr on her but to no avail. I called 911 and all I could do was keep screaming her name. she had picked up my meds for me and they were in a brown bag is the bathroom. I’d check through my meds and discovered 1 of my fentanyl patches was missing. we do not have the results of that talks ology report but my greatest fear is that she use that patch and it caused her to stop breathing or coaster to have a heart attack. she knew where my meds were because she was helping me to use my meds responsibly responsibly and had even said that she wanted me to cut down on the patch so I could stop using them she worried about me using the patch. it is bad enough to have lost her that she will not be able to raise your children and their children for children will not have their mother. if this is what happened I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to live with the fact that if I had not been using the patch is she would not

  10. Constance Reply

    I was with my high school sweetheart, my soulmate for 13 years and we have two kids together . we finally saved up enough money to get married, and then one night on his way home ,he was brutaly attached and car jacked and stabbed four times and beat with a gun and left for dead. A man stopped and called the police and he was taken to a emergency trauma unit at st.louis university hospital and was treated for his injurys and released with pain meds and antibiotics. he was prescribed fentanyl pain patches,two days later he died at our home, from acute fentanyl intoxication.he was 30 years old.my son { was 10 years old} and i found him dead on the couch. we did cpr until the ambulance and emt got there.my 7 year old daughter was at a friends house at a sleep over {thank god} my kids and i was devistated. instead of a family wedding, we buried my fiance with our wedding money. I dont know how these drug manufacturers sleep at night and why are they not in jail. these big drug companys are no better than a common street drug dealer, {but thats ok with the fda because they pay taxes} my fiance survived a armed robbery and a carjacking, and being stabbed and he was murdered by a legal drug dealer that was supposed to help him .. i trusted these people to help my family and they know that fentanyl should not be used out side of a hospital ,this medicine is a loaded gun. my son and daughter are in a lawsiut but i was not married to travis yet so by missouri state law i may as well be a stanger. and there is nothing that i can do. SHAME ON YOU BIG DRUG MANUFACTURE COMPANY’S- WHEN YOU PEOPLE GET SICK OR NEED MEDICATION YOU SHOULD ONLY BE ABLE TO USE YOUR FENTANYL AT HOME WITH NO MEDICAL OBSERVATION JUST LIKE THE PUBLIC THAT YOU KILL EVERYDAY. THE MONEY THAT SOME PEOPLE GET IS NOT ENOUGH JUSTICE, YOUR DRUGS ARE STILL BEING SOLD AND ARE STILL KILLING PEOPLES HUSBANDS, WIFES,KIDS, MOMS,DADS,UNCLES ,AUNTS AND MORE..{ AMERICA HOW MANY DEATHS ARE ENOUGH TO STOP THESE MURDERING COMPANYS }

  11. Tracy Reply

    My 70 yr old father in law fell and the dr gave him fentanyl patch for pain,knowing he had sever COPD and on oxygen. We applied the patch on a wensday and my father in law started to sleep a lot,very confused and not being able to follow directions and talk to us. we removed the patch on a friday and he slipped into a coma that night and we lost him saturday. I just heard about the risk with this drug and started checking it out on line. I believe he should never have been give this drug with his history. Someone needs to remove this drug from being used. Now my father was cremated and we have nothing to test… Lost and very hurt family

  12. paulette Reply

    My brother had been on prescribed fentanyl for years. He then had a stint put in his heart and and two weeks later passed away, while still on the patch. I have never done opiates, but I think the doctors might have taken the time to read the chart, and make a decision that the patch may not mix well with a stint. I’m not a doctor, but from what I’ve read it does not sound like he should have been on it after his surgery.
    I miss him.

  13. Vee Reply

    I’ve been on Fentanyl for about 4 years. I am now age 50. I have chronic pain, due to a severe whiplash injury. I want to be off the patches but my pain get so bad!
    I wonder what the STATISTICS are? Because many people die in plane crashes and car crashes too, yet people still drive and fily.

    I fear the LEAKING possibility. I wonder if Johnson and Johnson has worked on improving their safely.
    At the same time, SEVERE CHRONIC PAIN IS hard to live with and when pain is so high, we know there is a risk, but the risk is okay consideirng the intensity of the pain.
    PRAYS for you alll

  14. Tom D. Reply

    Wife dead from prescribed Fentanyl, Oxycodone, and Morphine to finish her off. Be careful with Nursing Services and Hospice Doctors or you may find yourself living alone. Do not wish to suit the violators. Want them to face Justice and that is difficult.

  15. Mrs B09 Reply

    My heart breaks reading all the story’s above. However I think you always hear the bad and never the good, I’m in need of a spinal fusion over 4 discs and am in crippling pain 24/7, fentalnyl patches have been my saviour, fair enough they do make me feel drowsy and I have had to stop driving due to this BUT the pain is now bearable and that’s due to wearing a 25mg and a 12mg patch constantly (started on 12mg) I am very careful about having a bath (heat) and changing/replacing as stated, and in most cases I’m sure when taken as prescribed these patches change people’s lives for the better, but unfortunately there are always bad sides, and for all who have loved and lost due to thee patches I’m truly sorry for your loss xxx

  16. leah Reply

    To be fair….. depression runs high in people with chronic pain. So all of us need to look at that and not always the drug involved. To be fair suicide runs high in individuals with illness and chronic pain. To be fair, chronic pain is very hard on the body over all and that includes the heart muscle. To be fair, not everyone uses medicine as prescribed. So individuals overuse (not judging) pain is difficult to deal with and people are not always drug seeking, they are just tired of living in severe pain. To be fair no one can judge anyone\’s pain unless they have lived in that person\’s body. Unless someone\’s has lived day in and day out in severe chronic pain that steals one\’s life, you cannot judge someone for wanting a medication (not street drug) to help you release that torture. Healthy people do not get that battle at all. Until anyone has lost all of their freedom to pain and sickness they cannot judge someone for trying a medicine or any avenue to release their pain. It is called compassion. Saying all that, I am sorry for any loss anyone on here has gone through and I in no way feel the drug companies are out for anything other than themselves and cash. It is sad….yet I do not judge the patients.

  17. Justin Reply

    that patch killed my sister. She suffered from a messed up spine and the corperation that killed my sister there was a lawsuit filled against them and we lost and they tried to blame it on the docter for over perscibing fuck them i no longer have a sister!!!!!!!!

  18. Tom Reply

    Wife started on the patch and lasted about a year. She ended up on Oxycodone and then, the nursing agency sent in Nurse Death who called in Hospice (Brevard Country-Florida) and they together finished her off with Morphine. Told family she had a large Lung Cancer yet, after her death, it was found she had been examined in Vero Beach at the Hospital and had NO CANCER. Doctor filed a death certificate alleging COPD…this after the cremation. Whole system is rotten and fueled by money.

  19. Mary Reply

    My father was admitted to hospital with severe pneumonia. He was already having trouble breathing as a result of this. Then they gave him a shot of fetanyl and he had a massive heart attack not long later. He was in agony and terrified. I know without a doubt it was the fetanayl that caused it. He fought for his life the rest of the night, shallow, laboured breathing. I saw the heart attack. He came through the night by Gods mercy alone. The next day they tried to finish him off with morphine even though they tell you it’s to “help their breathing”. No it actually depresses breathing and kills an already compromised patient. I do not trust doctors anymore. They are stooges for the drug companies and the whole system is built on filthy mammon. The system is rotten from a combination of the love of money and false god-like delusions fuelled by egos. If you want your relative to stay alive avoid the doctors and hospitals as much as possible. The whole medical system is evil to the core.

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