Fentanyl Scrutinized For Illegal Use, Overdose Potential, Other Dangers

A recent lawsuit against Mylan Pharmaceuticals has brought the Fentanyl Transdermal System patches into the legal spotlight yet again. Glenda Ann Maxwell of Charleston, West Virginia was prescribed the patches last year and used them as directed, her complaint claims. She was found in a catatonic state while wearing one of the patches and was hospitalized for a week. The claim further states that the woman remained in a coma for 12 hours after being found, a West Virginia Record article reports.

“Maxwell claims the patch was defective because it malfunctioned and did not perform as intended and designed.
 Maxwell is seeking compensatory and punitive damages,” the article said.

A wrongful death suit involving Fentanyl patches was settled in April of 2010 after an Illinois man died from an overdose of the drug. Cliff Cruse died of an overdose after using the patches as directed for about a month. His wife Leigh Ann Cruse filed the suit against Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceutical Products and Alza Corporation, an About Lawsuits article reported.

Reports of deaths involved with the use and misuse of the powerful Fentanyl painkiller patches continue to increase. In October of 2008, a wrongful death suit ended with Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $13.3 million to the family of a woman who died of an overdose while using the patches for pain relief after back surgery, an About Lawsuits article said.

Earlier Fentanyl lawsuits resulted in awards totaling $6.3 million for plaintiffs. Other cases against Fentanyl manufacturers remain to be heard.

An article published in the Finnish magazine YLE reported on two recent deaths from illegal use of Fentanyl that had been extracted from the patches. Another person was hospitalized in the case. In July, the article reported, two more people died from using the drug, which is reputedly much stronger than heroin.

References:

About Lawsuits Staff. (July 9, 2010) “Michigan Nursing Home Suit Results in $4.85 M Verdict Over Fatal Overdose.” Retrieved on August 9, 2010 from About Lawsuits.

Asbury, Kyla. (August 9, 2010) “Woman sues Mylan for defective Fentanyl patches.” Retrieved on August 9, 2010 from the West Virginia Record.

Jackson, Vickie. (July 19, 2010) “Fentanyl warnings.” Retrieved on July 19, 2010 from the Examiner.

YLE Staff. (August 6, 2010) “Another Death in Kuopio Attributed to Fentanyl.” Retrieved on August 9, 2010 from YLE.