Recalled Duragesic Patch Trial Over Woman’s Death Concludes

Pain-Patch Trial Ends in $16.6 Million Award

A trial involving a faulty Duragesic pain-killing patch has concluded with the family of a victim receiving $16.6 million.

The family of Janice DiCosolo, 38, from the Chicago area, was awarded that amount by a 12-person jury on November 17. Johnson & Johnson (J & J) is the parent company of Alza Corp. that makes the patch. The company says it may appeal the decision.

Initially the jurors said they were considering $18 million, but they subtracted out some liability for DiCosolo because she had other medications found in her system.

Janice DiCosolo was the mother of three children who suffered constant pain from a neurological condition, reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

Fentanyl is the main ingredient in the pain patch and is 100 times more powerful than morphine. The pain patches are supposed to be worn 72 hours and then thrown out. DiCosolo was wearing one of the defective pain patches when she died in 2004. The amount of the fentanyl contained in the patch is enough to kill 10 men weighing 300 pounds each, said the plaintiff attorney during her trial.

One lot of the Duragesic patches was recalled in February 2004 because the adhesive on the back of the device was faulty. DiCosolo was wearing one of the faulty patches that leaked into her system. She died one day after the recall.

This represents the fourth pain-patch loss for J &J in two years.

The DiCosolo defective medical product case began last October, one day after a Sanford Florida jury awarded $13.3 million to the family of Susan Hodgemire, a 34-year-old mother of five who was recovering from back surgery. She too died when a Duragesic patch failed in 2002, flooding her system with the narcotic.

Last year, a West Palm Beach, Florida man’s family was awarded $5.5 million after dying from an overdose of prescription patch painkiller. Adam Hendelson was 21 and shattered his hip in a car accident in 1996 and as a result was in constant pain. He was prescribed the Duragesic patch in 2003. He died at the age of 28, from an overdose of fentanyl.

Meanwhile there may be as many as 100 of these cases waiting to have their day in court.
J & J may want to take these cases on. Duragesic generated $1.16 billion in sales last year, according to a Bloomberg News report.