On March 6th of 2009, Rebecca Ross, a resident of Tennessee, sued Mylan Pharmaceuticals over the death of her sister Elisa.  Elisa had been prescribed 50 mcg/hr fentanyl patches, and filled the prescription with Mylan patches.  Mylan  patches use what’s called a “matrix” system to deliver the fentanyl, as opposed to the reservoir system used by Duragesic patches.  To the best of my knowledge, Duragesic patches are only made by ALZA, which is a Johnson & Johnson company.  This lawsuit alleges that Elisa had been prescribed 50 mcg/hr Duragesic patches.  If that’s true, the pharmacist likely substituted the Mylan patches. 

The coroner ruled that the cause of Elisa’s death was acute fentanyl intoxication, which means she died of an overdose.  There have been many fentanyl lawsuits filed over patches using the reservoir delivery system, like Duragesic patches, but not as many over patches using the matrix system.  Most of the fentanyl lawsuits filed over Duragesic patches allege both manufacturing defects, meaning that the patch wasn’t manufactured properly, and design defects, meaning that the product is unsafe even when manufactured correctly.  Some of the Duragesic lawsuits allege that the matrix delivery system is a safer design than the reservoir system.  I’ve spoken with a few fentanyl lawyers, and they told me that they believe the matrix design is safer.  So it’s interesting that this lawsuit alleges that the matrix system is a defective design as well.  As far as I know, matrix and reservoir delivery systems are the only way to deliver fentanyl through a patch.

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