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Children's Health

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Drugmaker Not Liable in Motrin Case

Jury Finds Johnson & Johnson Doesn't Have to Pay Damages for Girl's Blindness

Children's Motrin Case: Back Story continued...

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.

Children's Motrin Case: Second Opinion

The verdict may not mean other cases won't go the other way, says Miles Cooper, an attorney with The Veen Firm in San Francisco, who has experience in product liability cases.

"One verdict is not enough to predict the outcomes of the 60 cases," he tells WebMD. "I expect this case will be appealed by the plaintiffs. And there would need to be at least four to six more cases tried to see what the jurors' trends are."

A physician who has testified in product liability cases says he is not surprised by the verdict. "Many, many OTC [over-the-counter] drugs can cause Stevens-Johnson syndrome," says Neal Benowitz, MD, a professor of medicine and biopharmaceutical sciences at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. "It's very rare," he adds.

"Manufacturers cannot put every side effect down on a label, there is just not room. What manufacturers have to do is just pick out the most common and the most serious."

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