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Children's Health

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Family Blames Girl's Blindness on Motrin

Lawsuit Claims Child's Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Due to Children's Motrin


Greene says one of the major goals of the lawsuit is to demand that ibuprofen products carry warning labels. The suit also asks compensation for medical and legal expenses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare, often fatal adverse reaction triggered by many different kinds of drugs, particularly certain antibiotics and some painkillers. A recent New York study linked ibuprofen to nearly half of the 32 children referred to a local burn unit over an eight-year period.

Burn units generally treat patients because Stevens-Johnson syndrome attacks the skin and mucous membranes. It can cause the top layer of the skin to separate from the lower layer of the skin in affected areas. When large areas of skin are involved, the disease is known as toxic epidermal necrolysis, although there is overlap between the two diagnoses.

Often the eyes are involved, leading to blindness. Sabrina was not only blinded, but also left highly sensitive to light. When she goes out, she wears a large hat pulled down over her face.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is fatal in about 5% of cases; toxic epidermal necrolysis kills about 30% of patients.

While ibuprofen has been linked to Stevens-Johnson syndrome, so have many other drugs. There is no definitive proof that ibuprofen causes Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Ibuprofen is in dozens of products and is used by millions of adults and children who do not suffer serious side effects.

Greene says he will file two more lawsuits against McNeil, each linking Children's Motrin to the death of a child.

Greene says that before Sabrina fell ill, there were 15 known cases of Stevens-Johnson syndrome in children who took ibuprofen. Since then, he says, there have been 12 more cases in which children were "blinded, burned, or killed."

"They have settled a bunch of cases. This isn't the first case they've had," Greene says. "They settle these all confidentially in which they get the victims to agree not to tell the settlement amount and to give back any information that they have. That's basically how they keep the other victims and the public from hearing about it."

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