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By: Staff Writers | Published: April 16th, 2010
A settlement has been reached by parties involved in a fentanyl patch lawsuit stemming from the fatal overdose of an Illinois man on the powerful painkiller.
Leigh Ann Cruse filed the wrongful death lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court against a number of fentanyl pain patch manufacturers in 2007, including Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceutical Products, and Alza Corporation. Cruse alleged that the companies were responsible for the death of her husband, Cliff Cruse, who died in April 2006 from a fentanyl overdose after using the pain patches for about a month.
The lawsuit originally included Tri-City Neurology Associates Ltd. and Dr. Syed Ali of Granite City as defendants, however they were dismissed from the lawsuit last month, according to a story in the St. Clair Record.
The fentanyl patch contains a powerful fentanyl gel, which is 100-times stronger than morphine. The gel is supposed to be contained within the patch and delivered in a regulated fashion through a membrane placed on the skin. The original Duragesic patch was designed and distributed by Johnson & Johnson, but the pain patch is now available from a number of generic drug makers.
The FDA has received reports of hundreds of fentanyl overdoses and deaths associated with the use of the Duragesic patch and generic pain patches. The deaths have been caused when too much of the medication was delivered through the membrane or as a result of manufacturing defects which allowed the fentanyl gel to leak directly onto the skin.
Cruse’s lawsuit charged the defendants with strict product liability, negligence, breach of warranty, among other claims. The case was scheduled for trial to being on April 19, and the parties reached a settlement of the fentanyl patch lawsuit on April 9. Terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.
Out of the first four fentanyl patch wrongful death lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson to go to trial over problems with their Duragesic patch, plaintiffs have been successful in each case, with juries awarding a combined total of more than $36 million in damages.