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LOS ANGELES, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorneys from Dallas' Heygood, Orr & Pearson are announcing a Los Angeles Superior Court ruling that will require executives from Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NYSE: WPI) and its subsidiary companies to testify under oath and produce key documents as part of a lawsuit over the death of a 37-year-old woman who died while using the company's fentanyl patch.

Attorney Michael Heygood represents the parents of Nicole Bristol, who died on Feb. 9, 2008, hours after applying a fentanyl patch manufactured by Corona, Calif.-based Watson. Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic painkiller that is often applied by a time-released adhesive patch. The drug is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and often prescribed for chronic pain.

In the Los Angeles lawsuit, Monika Standing, et al. v. Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. BC-405990, Ms. Bristol's parents say their daughter suffered a lethal overdose as a result of a defective Watson fentanyl patch. Although the package insert in Ms. Bristol's prescription said she should have received 1.7 ng/ml of fentanyl, autopsy results showed that she died with 15ng/ml of fentanyl in her system. Fentanyl has been found to be lethal at a blood level of 3 ng/ml, with an average lethal concentration of 8 ng/ml.

The lawsuit says Watson officials used a faulty and unsafe "reservoir" design that is subject to manufacturing errors and can allow lethal amounts of the drug to leak onto a patient's skin. Although many competing companies utilize a "matrix" design that makes leaks impossible, Watson continues to use the "reservoir" design despite several recalls of Watson fentanyl patches and numerous lawsuits over related deaths around the count

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