Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Drugmaker Not Liable in Motrin Case

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

Motrin Trial Verdict

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."

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare and serious disorder of the skin and mucous membranes. The cause is not always clear, according to experts at Mayo Clinic, but is usually a type of allergic reaction in response to medication or infection.

Among the symptoms and signs are facial swelling, blisters on the skin, and mucous membranes, especially in the eyes, nose and mouth.

The next morning, according to the lawsuit, Sabrina woke with a high fever. Her eyes had turned pink and her mouth was swollen and had sores. At the hospital, she was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome. The damage to the eyes caused great pain, Greene says, and eventually blinded her.  While prescription versions of ibuprofen have the warning about the link to Stevens-Johnson, he says, over-the -counter versions do not.

The Malibu case is one of about 60 such lawsuits against Children's Motrin, according to Greene, who is representing two other families. Greene's clients asked for slightly less than a billion dollars, he tells WebMD, including actual damages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.

Today on WebMD

preschool age girl sitting at desk
Article
look at my hand
Slideshow
 
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
young boy with fever
Article
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

WebMD Special Sections