A California high school cheerleader recently required treatment in a Los Angeles burn center for Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare and potentially deadly skin disease that appears to have been brought on as a side effect of Lamictal, an epilepsy drug.
According to a recent report in The Lompoc Record, 17 year-old Gabrielle Corral was hospitalized in November after taking the medication, requiring intensive care after a painful rash developed behind her ears, on her lips and inside her mouth. Doctors diagnosed her condition as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which is commonly referred to as SJS.
For a time, the allergic reaction, which doctors believe was caused by GlaxoSmithKline’s Lamictal, left Corral in considerable pain, unable to see, speak or swallow. However, the teen is now out of the hospital and back in school after a number of surgeries to save her life and replace skin that was virtually burning from the inside out.
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a severe skin reaction that is known to occur as a side effect of several medications. It is highly debilitating and causes the skin to burn from the inside out, producing blisters, severe rashes and the skin may begin to separate from the body. When the skin lesions affect more than 30% of the body, the condition is 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.
Lamictal (lamotrigine) is approved by FDA for the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder. GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer, has a “new warnings” alert on the their website for the drug, which leads to information about the potential risk of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome from Lamictal [PDF Medication Guide]. The warning indicates that signs of SJS are most likely to happen within the first two to eight weeks of Lamictal treatment. It also warns that children ages two to 16 are the most likely victims of Lamictal Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.
Corral required skin graphs which are still healing, lost 24 lbs. during her stay in intensive care and has to test which foods she can tolerate, but she returned to school at Lompoc High School and has rejoined her cheerleading squad. She is still healing and must wear sunglasses and heavy clothing to protect her skin while it heals.