Thomas Vincent filed suit against ALZA Corporation, Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, L.P., Jannsen, L.P., Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc., and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.  The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that defective fentanyl patches were responsible for the death of Thomas’ wife, Rose.  This fentanyl lawsuit is currently pending in the federal district court for the Southern district of Mississippi. 

Rose was prescribed a 100 mcg/hr Duragesic patch.  The lawsuit alleges that the fentanyl patch was manufactured in Vacaville, California.  I’ve seen several other lawsuits that allege the patches were made in Vacaville.  I haven’t been to Vacaville since the late 80’s or early 90’s, and from what I remember, it wasn’t a likely site to make pharmaceutical products, but the city apparently attracted ALZA

The lawsuit explains that the patches made by ALZA are of the reservoir variety, “meaning that the fentanyl gel is inserted into a reservoir located between the Patch’s two layers.”  This is opposed to the matrix design, which is manufactured by Mylan, one of ALZA’s competitors.  The matrix design is entirely different, but there have been several fentanyl lawsuits filed over matrix designs.  In fact, this lawsuit suggests that the matrix design was a safer alternative to the reservoir design, and alleges that “matrix technology cannot leak fentanyl.”  I’m not sure if that is true, as several fentanyl lawyers I know believe the matrix design can leak fentanyl as well.

This lawsuit also discusses the FDA’s fentanyl recall in 2004, and 2008.  Both of these recalls were due to leaky patches, which can be very deadly.  The amount of fentanyl in the patch is supposed to be delivered over 72 hours.  A leaky patch can deliver three-days’ worth of fentanyl in a matter of minutes, severely injuring or killing the unlucky person who touched the patch.  Worse yet, soap makes it easier for the gel to be absorbed.  So if someone touches the patch, realizes it is leaking, and uses soap to wash the gel off, they’re at greater risk of dying.  If you ever come in contact with a leaky patch, wash your hands with water only and call 911 immediately.

Rose Vincent filled her prescription for fentanyl on April 4th of 2006, and passed away on April 6th – just two days later.  This shows how quickly a defective fentanyl patch can kill, and explains why there are so many fentanyl lawsuits pending across the country.

Here is a copy of the fentanyl lawsuit in PDF format.