Nearly ten years ago, a seven-year-old Massachusetts girl took Children’s Motrin and suffered a severe, life-altering drug reaction. Just recently, a jury awarded the girl and her family $63 million in compensatory damages.
The girl suffered from one of Motrin’s rare side effects, a particularly gruesome condition called toxic epidermal necrolysis. The condition caused her to lose 90% of her skin and permanently blinded her. The skin disorder, also known as TENS syndrome, involves severe damage to the skin’s blood vessels, tissue and mucus membranes, can spread quickly, and has high death rates.
The condition rapidly spread to the little girl’s lungs and brain, and surgeons had to drill into her skull to relieve pressure from swelling. Her internal organs were so swelled and inflamed that doctors had to place her into a medically-induced coma. She now suffers from short-term memory loss and has only 20% lung capacity.
The lawsuit was filed against Motrin manufacturer Johnson & Johnson in 2007 by the now-sixteen-year-old girl and her family. They are alleging that the company failed to disclose information about the risk of life-threatening reactions to Motrin. Johnson & Johnson is claiming that it did warn consumers about the risks and labeled Children’s Motrin appropriately. The company argued that many medicines, including ibuprofen, are associated with possible dangerous reactions, which is noted on the labels. The labels urge consumers to stop using medications immediately if they have a reaction and contact a healthcare professional.
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The Massachusetts girl had taken Children’s Motrin many times before, however, and her parents did immediately bring her to the hospital when symptoms worsened. The jury agreed with the family, stating that Johnson & Johnson did not provide enough warning about the potentially life-threatening side effects of ibuprofen.
In 2011, a girl in Pennsylvania was awarded $10 million after she suffered similar injuries from Children’s Motrin. The toxic epidermal necrolysis caused her to lose 84% of her skin, go blind in one eye, and suffer brain damage. Her symptoms began as a mild rash and redness around her eyes, but quickly transformed into large lesions burning her body from the inside out. The three-year-old was admitted to a burn unit in Texas, more than 1,000 miles from her home. Her mother said the experience was like something out of a science-fiction movie.
Both girls have spent the last decade undergoing numerous eye surgeries and suffering from recurrent lung and eye infections. In 2010, the Pennsylvania girl developed a seizure disorder caused by the oxygen deprivation she suffered when she was three. Unfortunately, most anti-seizure medications can trigger TENS, so she has difficulty controlling the seizures. Because of the damage done to her reproductive organs, she will never be able to bear children nor have normal sexual relations.
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Both cases placed 100% liability on Motrin manufacturers, saying the drug did not provide adequate warnings. When prescription Motrin was approved by the FDA in 1974, the label did reference TENS risks, however, the non-prescription labels did not. In 2000, many labels for over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, added allergy alerts for shock, hives, and swelling. In 2005, the FDA recommended those drugs also add warnings of skin reddening, blisters, and rash, however, they did not specifically mention TENS or Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS).
Other drugs known to trigger TENS and SJS include Dilantin, Tegretol, Allupurinol, and some anti-anxiety medications. The families of the two girls just want drug companies to provide more information on labels so parents can make better well-informed decisions. Hundreds of thousands of Americans die and are seriously injured each year from over-the-counter drugs, and many are eligible for compensation for their injuries. Drug warning lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have helped victims obtain millions of dollars in recoveries.