Sister of woman who died from Fentanyl toxicity files wrongful death claim

By Jon Campisi | Jun 22, 2012

The sister of a Philadelphia woman whose death was allegedly caused by a Fentanyl pain

patch has filed a wrongful death claim against the pharmaceutical companies that manufactured and distributed product.

Philadelphia attorney Gregory S. Spizer, of the firm Anapol Schwartz, filed the complaint June 19 at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court on behalf of city resident Tracy King.

King is suing on behalf of her deceased sister, Sonya Marshall.

The defendants named in the lawsuit are Alza Corp., Sandoz Inc., Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceutical Products and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.

According to the complaint, Marshall was found dead in her bed on June 19, 2010, and the cause of death was determined to be Fentanyl toxicity.

Marshall had been given a prescription for a Fentanyl pain patch prior to her death, although the lawsuit claims that she never abused the drug or used the patch inappropriately.

The lawsuit states that Fentanyl is an “extremely dangerous” drug that is at least 80 times stronger than morphine, and is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

“The Patch is unsafe for its intended or reasonably foreseeable use because it can and does cause lethal levels of fentanyl in patients,” the lawsuit states.

The suit says that defendant Alza recalled numerous patches in 2004 because of “leaking defects,” and that that same year the FDA investigated Alza’s manufacturing practices and quality control/assurance policies and procedures and found them to be deficient.

Alza again recalled patches in 2008, the suit states.

The lawsuit contains counts of strict products liability for manufacturing, design defect and failure to warn; negligence; negligent design; negligent misrepresentation; breach of warranty; and gross negligence and malice.

The suit claims that the defendants knew that the Fentanyl patches had “unreasonably dangerous risks and caused serious side effects of which Decedent and her physicians would not be aware. Defendants nevertheless advertised, marketed, distributed, and sold the product knowing that there were safer methods and products available.”

The suit also contains wrongful death and survival action counts.

For each of the claims made in the suit, the plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $50,000, in addition to litigation costs.

A jury trial is being demanded.


The case ID number is 120602334.

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