Plaintiff Sabrina Brierton Johnson was just 6 years old when she developed a fever which her parents treated with three doses of Children’s Motrin. Children’s Motrin is a Johnson & Johnson product. During the time when the child should have been experiencing a lower temperature she instead began to develop symptoms that are commonly associated with the rare and often deadly Stevens Johnson syndrome. She spent 2 weeks in the hospital suffering from blistering, lesions, rash, and great pain. Ultimately the child lost her sight despite several surgeries to attempt to restore her eyesight. Her parents as guardians’ ad litem are pursuing action against Johnson & Johnson as well as McNeil Consumer and Specialty Pharmaceuticals claiming that as the manufacturer of Children’s Motrin, McNeil should have placed a warning on the label concerning the symptoms and risk of Stevens Johnson Syndrome.
There has already been a trial for this case in which the jury ruled that Johnson & Johnson and McNeil knew of the potential risks and side effects of Children’s Motrin and that they failed to instruct or warn of the risks and side effects adequately. However the verdict stated that the lack of sufficient instructions or warnings was not a substantial factor in causing the harm to Sabrina Johnson.
The plaintiff is asking to have this judgment reversed on the grounds that the trial court abused its discretion by excluding a demonstrative exhibit that illustrated the testimony of an expert.
Stevens Johnson Syndrome – Rare and Deadly
Stevens Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis also known as SJS and TEN are rare skin diseases that are severe and often fatal. Studies have shown that the occurrence of SJS is about one to 6 cases per million people each year. Nearly 80% of the cases of SJS are caused by some type of medication.
Appearing in the form of rash and blisters, SJS tends to seem as if it is burning the victim from the inside out. Patients should be treated in a burn care unit as their skin, organ linings and mucous membranes are destroyed. Early detection and treatment are imperative in saving a life. Loss of sight and disfiguring scarring from loss of skin as well as a long recovery time, light sensitivity and pain are common in those who survive a bout with SJS.
There is no known cause but studies have shown that several anti inflammatory drugs known as NSAID’s (including ibuprofen) are closely related to occurrences of SJS. Many medications list skin reactions as symptoms of a drug allergy and advise seeking a physician’s care. This is due not only to actual allergic reactions but also to incidences of SJS. Always read warnings and information on any medication you or your children take. The occurrence of SJS in Sabrina Johnson did not happen the first, second or even third time she was given Children’s Motrin. No one knows what triggers the SJS symptoms and there is no way to predict exactly what factors cause it to occur.