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Lawsuit Over Stevens-Johnson Syndrome from Motrin Results in $48M Award

  • Written by: Staff Writers
  • 2 Comments

A Los Angeles jury has awarded $48.1 million to a man who suffered Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a debilitating and potentially life-threatening skin rash, which he developed after taking Motrin as a teenager. 

The lawsuit over Stevens-Johnson syndrome was filed by Christopher Trejo in 2008, and has faced a lengthy battle through a number of courts before trial began in August in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The Honduran-born Trejo, now 22, was 15 years old when he took Motrin and developed the severe reaction that causes the skin burns from the inside out. The condition eventually progressed from Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) to the more severe toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which is diagnosed when the skin lesions affect more than 30% of the body.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis are painful and debilitating conditions where the skin burns, blisters and may begin to separate from the body. Treatment in a hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Burn Unit is often required, and the conditions can be fatal in many cases.

According to allegations raised in the Motrin lawsuit, Trejo developed the skin reaction in 2005. He was hospitalized for days and was affected all over of his body. Since then he has had vision problems and problems with some internal organs.

Trejo accused Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturers of Motrin, of negligence in failing to warn consumers that the painkiller could cause potentially fatal skin reactions. According to the complaint, the drug maker misrepresented study results and did not tell federal drug regulators or the medical community the entire truth about the risk of SJS and TEN from Motrin when it asked for approval to sell the product without a prescription.

When the painkiller was prescription-only, it carried a warning about the risks of SJS. Although warnings about Motrin skin reaction side effects are included in some other countries, Johnson & Johnson still does not warn about the the risk of SJS and TEN from Motrin on the packaging in the United States.

Trejo’s court victory is the second this year for a plaintiff who claimed that Motrin, the brand name for ibuprofen, causes SJS or TEN. In May, a Philadelphia jury awarded $10 million to the family of Brianna Maya, a 12-year-old girl who has been left blinded in one eye and suffered burns over 84% of her body after taking Children’s Motrin in 2000. In that case, the jury also ruled that Johnson & Johnson was negligent in failing to provide proper warnings about the risk of SJS and TEN from Children’s Motrin on the medication’s label.

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2 comments

  1. jay Reply

    I WAS PRESCRIBED MOTRIN AND IBUPROFEN REPEATEDLY BY A DOZEN DOCTORS EVEN THOUGH I ALWAYS INQUIRED ABOUT ITS SAFETYT. I WAS ALWAYS ASSURED THAT IT WAS SAFE , IT HAS NO SIDE EFFECTS. EACH TIME I TOOK MOTRIN FOR PAIN, I EXPERIENCED STOMACK PAIN. I STOPPED TAKING MOTRIN PERIOD. LAST WEEK ANOTHER DOCTOR REFUSED TO GIVE ME ANY THING BUT MOTRIN.

    MY QUESTION IS ? WHY PEOPLE AND DOCTORS ARE STUPID. HOW MUCH MOTRIN THESE PEOPLE CONSUMED BEFORE THEY DEVELOPED THEIR AILMENTS? WHY DID THEY NOT STOP IT, TELL THE DOCTORS. IF A MEDICATION CAN CAUSE SOMETHING SO SEVERE INSTANTLY. I AM SURPRISED IS NOT USED AS WMD.

  2. Catherine Reply

    I always suspected that taking these drugs would cause me to become ill. I would tell the doctor that I was itching and swelling only to be treated as if I was crazy. Always , having the doctor prescribed the exact same med that caused the problem. I would swell, itch, and feel like I was burning up on the inside. I have been misdiagnosed on ever hand. I have been a guinea pig for 4 years and still being misdiagnosis ed.

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