Friday, February 22, 2013

Johnson & Johnson Could Pay $109 Million After Cases of Children's Skin Death

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

Samantha Reckis, who at age 7 suffered a severe reaction to the drug Motrin, has received at least some hope of compensation for her years of suffering and permanent damage.

More than 5 years after the suit was filed, jurors in Plymouth, Mass. agreed that $50 million dollars should be awarded to Samantha and over $12 million to her parents after finding health and beauty giant Johnson & Johnson liable for physically devastating damages suffered from a little-known severe reaction to Children's Motrin. If the trial judge goes for it, Johnson & Johnson would pay $109 million if interest is considered. However, an award that big for an individual case is very rare - so it could be thrown out.

Samantha was 7 when she was given Children's Motrin (ibuprofen) and suffered an allergic reaction that developed into toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), a condition in which the blood vessels in the skin are damaged to the point where the skin becomes necrotic and infection can set in. Samantha's condition was described like "having your skin burned off" and in truth, that is what happened.

At one point she required emergency surgery requiring a drill to relieve pressure on her brain, caused by a buildup of fluids. Although TEN has an extremely high mortality rate, Samantha survived , but still has an 80% loss of lung function and permanent partial blindness in both eyes as a teenager.

The family sued on the grounds that the warning label on the Children's Motrin in no way indicated that such a horrible reaction could occur. Many doctors are aware of a lesser condition caused by the prescription version, but this family's doctors were at loss until one finally figured out the connection.

Throughout the suit, Johnson & Johnson maintained that their product was labeled appropriately, stating:
The Reckis family has suffered a tragedy, and we sympathize deeply with them -- A number of medicines, including ibuprofen, have been associated with allergic reactions and as noted on the label, consumers should stop using medications and immediately contact a healthcare professional if they have an allergic reaction. (Source)
But most parents don't associate an allergic reaction with skin burns and skin death, or permanent blindness. Also, this condition is called TEN and can be caused by multiple factors and only rarely from an allergic reaction. Along with their heartfelt concern, Johnson & Johnson also stated that they are still exploring other legal options.

Maybe instead, Johnson & Johnson (the family company) should assess a cause; they have been ushered into court at least four times for similar cases involving Children's Motrin, costing them nearly $70 million compensation to young victims. J&J got away with paying nothing in another case where an 11 year old was left completely blind. A similar case went in favor of a Pennsylvania girl who lost 84% of her skin and suffered blindness and brain damage after a reaction to Children's Motrin.

Dr Robert Sundel, a rheumatologist unassociated with the case, said that much is still unknown about the disease and what triggers such severe reactions in some ­patients. While specialists believe the syndrome can be caused by viral infections, ­malignancies, or severe allergic reactions to medication, the leading cause appears to be the use of antibiotics and sulfa drugs, he said. He was very careful to say rare cases should not dissuade parents from using Children's Motrin.

It is important to remember that many deadly drug reactions are from drugs originally approved safe by the FDA. It took years, but we now know that ibuprofenand acetaminophen can cause liver and kidney damage respectively, among other conditions. We're finally figuring out the global impact from overuse of antibiotics. When approved safe without warnings, people like the kids who contracted skin death can battle lifelong irreversible damage before anyone even figures out what's wrong. Warnings, however, do not remedy the cause - they cover future liability after enough people have paid the price. It's similar to traffic lights that are only installed after a certain number of people have died in that particular intersection.

Instead of taking the risk, no matter how small, it may be best to seek the natural "counterparts" to pain medicine. For instance, Bayer's Aspirin was originally derived from components of Willow Bark and later made synthetically. Natural pain relievers that the Native Americans favored give back to the body, whereas synthetic ones take up pain receptor sites (weakening the body's ability to address pain), accumulate in organs and bones, require a lot of energy to use, and cause toxic conditions. It's even speculated that women who take lots of ibuprofen for cramps have weaker uterine muscles when they need them during childbirth, since the medication alleviates pain by stopping menstrual contractions. Not that pain/fever meds aren't helpful during a dire emergency, but they should not be taken with the frequency that many people do.

Lastly, natural pain relievers cannot be patented!


Read other articles by Heather Callaghan


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Anonymous said...

Just incredible that a "family company" can get away with this and know this can happen to children. They show no compassion at all! They've even paid out before because of skin death in kids.

I did not know that antibiotics could contribute to skin necrolysis.

Anonymous said...

Turmeric works as good as ibuprofen, and is non-toxic. Pot works well too, but they have yet to legalize it. I stay away from aspirin. I cut my finger one time, while taking the little 81 mg. aspirin, and I bled for an hour or two. I won't touch acetaminophen unless I'm desperate. I think we should be allowed to grow a certain number of poppies in the back yard, for personal use. God gave us some pretty good plants, but "family companies" insist on making chemical imitations, so they can be patented and sold at ten prices.

Anonymous said...

I remember when the push to mass-market NSAIDS like Ibuprofen began and thought at the time "this is going to end badly".

Anonymous said...

Johnson & Johnson
is another evil company!
and news for anyone reading any head ache medicine is a Placebo! you don't need it you can heal your head aches yourself. You don't need any pills!

brad said...

Any of the NSAIDS cause liver/kidney damage if taken for 3 weeks. Do Americans really think they have arthritis because they have an aspirin, or tylenol deficiency all of the sudden? There is a biochemical/nutritional cause. Find it. Fix it. Quit the illness.
This case is not a disease. It is a reaction to a toxin.

h5mind said...

The original name for the FDA was the American Chemistry Association. Its mission was to displace the then widespread use of safe, cheap, homeopathic cures for illnesses in favor of 'modern' chemical treatments at much higher cost and questionable efficacy. The name has changed to the benevolent-sounding "Food and Drug Association", but their mission never varied. This tragic case, and untold millions of others involving dangerous side effects, debilitating injuries, and even death, continue to occur each year. Only a fraction of a percent ever manage to make the news. This will never change until the incestuous relationship between the FDA and the industry they are tasked to safeguard is severed.

Anonymous said...

The Corporation should be closed for ever, not sold, not fined, not split up, but destroyed for ever.

Anonymous said...

Surely this reaction is rare? Billions of people have taken Motrin without any problems.

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