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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.