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The parents of a teenage girl were awarded $63 million in court on Wednesday this week nearly a decade after the girl suffered a severe allergic reaction to Motrin and lost most of her skin. Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary McNeil PPC Inc. will pay Samantha Reckis $50 million in compensatory damages and her parents each $6.5 million.

Samantha was given Motrin ibuprofen when she was 7 years old. She suffered a rare side effect known as toxic epidermal necrolysis, which left her blinded, brain damaged, and with low respiratory capacity. She also lost about 90% of her skin. Doctors had to drill into her skull to relieve pressure, but thankfully her brain damage resulted in short-term memory loss in the long-term rather than more severe damage. Her family filed a lawsuit in 2007, alleging that Samantha was blinded by Motrin and that the company failed to adequately warn consumers about possible life-threatening reactions.

According to court testimony, Samantha's parents gave her Motrin in 2003, the day after Thanksgiving for a fever. The resulting effect–toxic epidermal necrolysis–is a potentially fatal skin disease that inflames the mucus membranes and includes a rash that burns off the top layer of skin. In Samantha's case, it inflammed her throat, mouth, eyes, esophagus, intestinal tract, respiratory system and reproductive system and doctors had to put her in a coma. Johnson & Johnson says that it disagrees with the jury verdict and says that it is considering additional legal options.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Vern Denis

    J&J should definitely appeal this matter - would such a warning prevented the parents from giving the child Motrin ? Since the side effect has such a small possibility of occurrence, I doubt that sucha warning would have deterred them. Moreover, I seriously doubt that they read the warnings on the bottle at all, only the dosage recommendations (I bet the defense would like to hook the parents up to a polygraph and see the readings to that question)

    You can't warn against everything since there is no medication anywhere on Planet Earth that is 100% safe to all of the world's 6 billion inhabitants.

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