Family of Girl Blinded by Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Sues Maker of Children’s Motrin

The family of a young girl blinded as a result of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/stevens_johnson_syndrome">Stevens-Johnson Syndrome blames Children’s Motrin for her injuries, and has taken the maker of the over-the-counter pain reliever to court.  The family’s lawsuit is seeking better labeling for the pain reliever, as well as compensatory and punitive damages from McNeil PPC, and its parent, Johnson &  Johnson.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a sometimes life-threatening hypersensitivity complex affecting the skin and the mucous membrane that may be caused by many drugs, viral infections, and malignancies. Steven-Johnson Syndrome is characterized by blistering of mucous membranes, typically in the mouth, eyes, and vagina, and patchy areas of rash. It can cause the top layer of the skin to separate from the lower layer of the skin in affected areas.  Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is fatal in about 5 percent of all cases.

Because it involves the mucus membrane, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome usually requires treatment in a hospital burn unit.  A recent New York study linked ibuprofen to nearly half of the 32 children referred to a local burn unit over an eight-year period.

The parents of Sabrina Johnson, who was six at the time of her diagnosis, said she was given two doses – one in the afternoon and another later in the evening – of Children’s Motrin one day in 2003 to alleviate symptoms of a fever.  According to the lawsuit, Sabrina awoke the next morning with a high fever, her eyes were pink, and her mouth was swollen and covered in sores.  Sabrina was immediately hospitalized, but by the next day, she was blind in both eyes. Doctors then diagnosed Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

Sabrina’s lawyer alleges that Johnson & Johnson knew of a link between ibuprofen, the active ingredient in Motrin, and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. The lawsuit points out that while the prescription version of the drug has stronger warnings, the over-the-counter version mentions nothing about this risk.

Jury selection for Sabrina’s lawsuit, which is being heard in Los Angeles Superior Court, began last week. Arguments are expected to begin  this  week.  Sabrina’s Stevens-Johnson Syndrome lawsuit is the first of nine similar lawsuits scheduled to begin this year and next in the US.

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