A Stevens-Johnson syndrome lawsuit has been filed in Illinois against the makers of the epilepsy drug Dilantin, by two people who developed the debilitating skin reaction after taking the drug, and the family of a third person who died as a result of the condition.
The Dilantin lawsuit was filed last month in St. Clair County Circuit Court against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, and its Parke Davis and Warner Lambert subsidiaries. Plaintiffs include Shirley Johnson, Michael Shepherd and the wife of John Taylor, who died from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome on December 31, 2009.
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, commonly referred to as SJS, is a painful and debilitating reaction that has been linked to side effects of Dilantin and several other medications. It can cause the skin to burn, producing blisters, severe rashes and the skin may begin to separate from the body.
When the skin lesions from SJS affect more than 30% of the body, the condition is typically referred to as toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). Treatment in a hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Burn Unit is often required, and the conditions can be fatal in many cases.
Dilantin (phenytoin) is an antiepileptic drug manufactured by Pfizer. In November 2008, the FDA issued a warning about a potential risk of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome from Dilantin and Phenytek.
According to the recent lawsuit, Dilantin is the drug most associated with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, and the plaintiffs claim that Pfizer failed to warn consumers about the risks associated with the Dilantin side effects. A report in The St. Clair Record indicates that the plaintiffs allege that Pfizer told Health Canada that drugs containing Dilantin carried a substantially increased risk of adverse skin reactions when seeking Canadian approval of the drug Bextra, but did not put warnings on Dilantin.
Several different medications have been known to cause SJS and TEN, but new data suggests that Asian patients who have the HLA-B*1502 allele, could face a substantially increased risk when taking phenytoin (marketed as Dilantin, Phenytek and generics) or fosphenytoin sodium (marketed as Cerebyx and generics).
A blood test or genetic test can be used to identify the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele, HLA-B*1502, which occurs almost exclusively in people of Asian ancestry, with approximately 10-15% of people from parts of China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan, carrying the allele.
In October, Pfizer reached a $3.78 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a 9-year-old New York girl who died from toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) from Dilantin.
Tags: Bextra, Dilantin, Epilepsy, Epilepsy Drug, Fosphenytoin, Personal Injury, Pfizer, Phenytek, Phenytoin, Product Liability, SJS, Skin Reactions, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, TEN, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, Wrongful Death