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Children's Health

Drugmaker Not Liable in Motrin Case

Jury Finds Johnson & Johnson Doesn't Have to Pay Damages for Girl's Blindness
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

The jury in the $1 billion lawsuit against Children's Motrin, a widely-used pain reliever, has decided that the drugmaker, Johnson & Johnson, is not liable for damages experienced by Sabrina Johnson, a California girl, now 11, whose parents say she suffered pain and blindness after they gave her recommended doses of the drug in 2003.

Deliberating in Malibu, Calif., in Los Angeles Superior Court, the jurors took three and a half days to come to their decision.

The verdict, which came down Thursday afternoon, sparked outrage from the attorney of the girl's family and a reaffirmation from McNeil Consumer Health Care, the J & J subsidiary that makes Children's Motrin (Ibuprofen), that their drug is safe and effective.

Children's Motrin Case: Attorney of Girl's Family Reacts

"The jury found in this case that Johnson & Johnson and McNeil, their wholly owned subsidiary, knew of the dangerous risk of side effects inherent in this drug," says Browne Greene of Greene, Broillet, and Wheeler in Santa Monica, Calif. "It found they failed to warn adequately of these risks and yet found the failing to warn had nothing to do with the injuries. In other word they found that a better warning would not have made a difference."

His reaction? ''Incredible beyond the evidence," he says.

Children's Motrin Case: McNeil Responds

In a prepared statement, spokesman Marc Boston of McNeil says: ''McNeil PPC Inc., agrees with the outcome of today's verdict. As the makers of Children's Motrin (ibuprofen), we are deeply concerned about all matters related to our medicines and are committed to providing safe and effective medicines. While we are sympathetic to the pain and hardship suffered by Sabrina Johnson, Children's Motrin has been proven safe and effective for the treatment of minor aches and pains and fever when used as directed and the medicine is labeled appropriately. We strongly recommend consumers read the product label for dosing information and warnings and talk with their health care professional if they have any questions or concerns."

Children's Motrin Case: Back Story

Sabrina Johnson's parents gave her the drug to treat a fever when she returned from school one afternoon and again that night, Greene says, "and all that led to Stevens-Johnson syndrome."

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