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Family agrees to settlements in fentanyl lawsuit filed over wrongful death of rocket scientist

The family of a 50 year old rocket scientist and father of four who died as a result of a fentanyl overdose has reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the doctor who prescribed the pain patch. The family of Carey Cooper also agreed to settlements with the manufacturer of the patch and the pharmacy that filled a fentanyl prescription that was wrongfully issued to Carey Cooper to treat pain following a recent surgery.

According to the fentanyl lawsuit filed on his behalf, Cooper underwent sinus surgery by Dr. Michael Paul Widick in August 2007 to treat sleep apnea. Dr. Widick prescribed liquid hydrocodone in order to treat Cooper’s post-surgical pain, but when this made him nauseated, the doctor ordered a prescription for the fentanyl patch, despite the fact that Cooper did not meet the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines for being treated with fentanyl. According to FDA warnings, because of the high potency of fentanyl, the pain patch should not be prescribed for the treatment of post-surgical pain, or to patients who have not developed a tolerance for strong narcotics.

Despite the fact that Cooper should not have been taking fentanyl, his doctor issued a prescription for the 75-microgram version of the patch—the second highest dosage that was available. Just two days after undergoing surgery, Cooper was found dead in his sleep of respiratory depression caused by a fentanyl overdose.

Dr. Widick agreed to a settlement of $375,000, which was $125,000 more than the $250,000 limit covered by his medical malpractice insurance policy. The settlements amounts agreed to by the pharmacy that filled Cooper’s fentanyl prescription and the company that manufactured the pain patch were kept confidential.