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The son of an Illinois woman who died due to a fentanyl overdose has filed a lawsuit against Mylan Laboratories, which manufactures a generic version of the fentanyl pain patch.
The fentanyl patch wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Madison County Circuit Court on March 5 by Jason Pellazari, who claims that his mother, Betty J. Pellazari, died on March 8, 2009, after applying a pain patch the night before. The lawsuit claims that the patch itself was defective, allowing too much of the powerful fentanyl gel to enter her body.
A coroner determined that Betty Pellazari died due to fentanyl toxicity, with excessive fentanyl in her blood. The lawsuit claims she used the patch as directed and was found dead the next morning by her boyfriend.
The Mylan fentanyl patch is a generic version of the Duragesic patch, which is manufactured by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The pain patch is prescribed to patients suffering from chronic, severe pain. It is designed to slowly deliver a dose of the powerful painkiller Fentanyl, which is an opioid that is considered 100 times more powerful than heroine. If too much of the medication is delivered or if the fentanyl gen contained in the patch comes in direct contact with the skin, it can cause a fatal fentanyl patch overdose.
The fentanyl lawsuit charges Mylan with failure to warn of the risks and negligence in designing and inspecting the patches to make sure they were safe for the public. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $400,000 for loss of support and guidance and other costs.
There have been a number of reported problems with fentanyl pain patches due to manufacturing issues since the brand name medication was first introduced by Johnson & Johnson in 1994. At least six different fentanyl patch recalls have been issued by Johnson & Johnson and companies manufacturing generic versions of the patch, raising questions about whether the powerful painkiller can be safely made.
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.