Dangerous drugs may include some over-the-counter medicines. Recent verdicts outside of Ohio underscore the dangers of one such medicine — Motrin. Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Motrin, have been ordered to pay a 7 year-old girl $63 million after she developed toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) from taking Motrin. TEN, also called erythema multiforme or Lyell’s syndrome, is a rare reaction to certain medications that causes skin and tissues lining the throat, eyes, mouth, esophagus, intestines, reproductive organs and lungs to become inflamed and die. It is a severe form of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS).
This recent award follows a similar case that resulted in a $10 million award to another young girl who suffered these excruciating injuries after taking Motrin. These cases fall into the category of product liability and are premised on the drug manufacturer’s failure to warn about this dangerous side effect.
TEN is a rare side effect of Motrin, but it can be caused by a variety of medications, including Bactrim (an antibiotic), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, Allopurinol (for gout), Methotrexate (for treatment of cancer and auto-immune disorders), antiretrovirals, steroids, anti-anxiety medications, Phenobarbital, Dilantin, Tegretol, Depakote and others. Patients who develop TEN or SJS are treated in burn units because the inflammatory reaction to the body tissues mimics a severe burn.
A lawsuit for TEN or SJS may also arise if medications are given unnecessarily, in the face of contraindications or without informed consent. In such instances, the case would be a medical malpractice case against the physician who prescribed the dangerous drugs, rather than a product liability claim.