Our firm has handled a number of cases involving Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS), which is a life-threatening illness. As you may already know, SJS is usually caused by a severe allergic reaction to a medication. SJS, which is also known as Erythema Multiforme, Leyll’s Syndrome, and in its later stages, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN), causes large areas of the skin to become detached and lesions to develop in the mucous membranes. Infections caused by the loss of skin or scarring of major organ systems can lead to debilitation or death. Without a doubt, SJS is a most serious problem and one that is largely unknown to lots of folks.
Most of the SJS litigation involves either a failure to warn or an inadequate warning. While pharmaceutical manufacturers are aware of the risks associated with their drugs, warnings are for the most part inadequate. Many over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as Ibuprofen – found in Advil and Motrin – have been linked to Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Without adequate warnings, patients who develop SJS may continue to take the SJS-causing drug, which could lead to life-threatening TEN. SJS may be caused by almost any medication, including antibiotics, anticonvulsants, sedatives and painkillers. The leading causes of this disease are the following medications: Ibuprofen; Ketek, an antibiotic; Dilantin, an anticonvulsant; COX-2 Celebrex, a Cox-2 inhibitor; Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), including Daypro, Feldene and Naproxen.
In May 2006 the FDA updated several prescription and OTC medications with a warning label as a result of increased risk of developing Stevens Johnson Syndrome. The drugs had either a new warning regarding SJS or had added wording to an existing warning. If you would like a list of these drugs contact Shanna Malone at Shanna.Malone@beasleyallen.com.
Stevens Johnson Syndrome can begin with a fever, sore throat and headache and over a few says can turn into skin lesions and blisters. In some cases this can happen in a very short time, even minutes. It generally affects the mucous membranes of the mouth, throat and internal organs. As SJS evolves, the skin literally sloughs off in sheets. Typically patients with SJS are treated in a hospital’s burn unit. If the skin lesions become infected, or the patient develops lesions in the lungs, it can cause death. This horrific and painful disease frequently causes blindness. It’s critically important to recognize early symptoms of SJS. Getting prompt medical attention is absolutely necessary. If long-term damage is to be minimized, early detection and prompt treatment are necessary.
Allergic drug reactions cause more than 100,000 deaths among patients in the United States each year. Those persons most likely to develop SJS are extremely allergic to antibiotics or painkillers such as Ibuprofen. While most cases occur in adults between the ages of 20-40 years, SJS has been diagnosed in children as young as three months old. Anyone who takes prescription or over-the-counter drugs runs the risk of developing allergic reactions and developing serious health problems like SJS.
We have seen first-hand that all too many drug manufacturers put profits far ahead of the well-being of folks who buy their products. Drug companies that operate in this manner must be held accountable for the damage caused to innocent victims. If you need more information on SJS, contact Frank Woodson at 800-898-2034 or by email at Frank.Woodson@beasleyallen.com.
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