April 21, 2004 - Family Files $25M Lawsuit Over Drug Patch
The family of a woman who drowned in her bathtub after using a pain medication patch has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the maker, Johnson & Johnson, and its subsidiaries Janssen Pharmaceutica Products LP, which produces the drug, and Alza Corp, which manufactures the patches.
The suit alleges Patricia C. Wroten died on Feb. 6 as a result of a faulty Duragesic patch that leaked dangerous levels of opiates into her body. The suit alleges Wroten was washing her hair in the bathtub when the harmful effects of the drug hit her, rendered her unconscious and led to her death. A copy of the state medical examiner's report attached to the lawsuit gives the cause of death as drowning.
Janssen recalled a batch of the patches in February after determining that some leaked medication along one edge. Wroten is claimed to have worn a patch from that recalled lot when she died, but a warning of the problem arrived after Wroten died.
Duragesic is a prescription-only medication for "moderate to severe chronic pain," according to a Web site posted by its manufacturer. The patch contains fentanyl, "an opioid pain medication" and can function for up to three days.