Drugmaker Not Liable in Motrin Case
Jury Finds Johnson & Johnson Doesn't Have to Pay Damages for Girl's Blindness
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
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
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.