Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) are skin disorders heavily associated with the use of a variety of medications.
Certain drugs can cause severe allergic reactions that affect skin and mucous membranes, triggering severe burning, blistering and sloughing of involved tissue. In the most serious cases, blindness and death may occur.
While much is still unknown about the disease, specialists believe the syndrome to be caused by severe allergic reactions to medication, including antibiotics and sulfa drugs.
Joe Lyon is a highly rated Ohio pharmaceutical Injury and liability lawyer who has successfully represented individuals throughout the United States in complex toxic exposure, negligence and liability cases.
Who is at Risk?
According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic Medical Center, almost 170 million Americans take at least one prescription drug. That represents almost 70 percent of the adult population.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that over 20 percent of Americans take three or more different prescription drugs each month; and 10 percent take at least 5 different prescription drugs.
There is a strong correlation between a rising number of drug users and the number of deadly adverse drug reactions. Each year, patients experience 2.5 million serious adverse drug reactions.
Many recently released drugs on the marketplace, like Bextra, Onfi, and Zyprexa can cause these conditions. This is an unnecessary risk; studies published by Harvard University suggest less than 15 percent of newly approved drugs have significant clinical advantages over existing, better-known drugs.
Adverse Drug Reactions Leading Cause of Death
Accounting for approximately 150,000 deaths per year in the U.S., drug reactions are one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Yet, because less than one percent of adverse drug reactions are reported to the FDA, the problem is not well-known. So, although SJS is considered a rare disease, it may be more prevalent than previously thought.
Which Drugs Trigger Stevens-Johnson Syndrome?
Almost any prescribed and over-the-counter drug, including adult and children ibuprofen products, can cause the onset of SJS.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome has been associated with negative reactions to several different types of drugs, including:
• Antibiotics (Levaquin
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
• Sulfa or sulfa-containing drugs
• Gout medications
Recent Drug Warnings
• Bextra—In 2005, the FDA requested that Pfizer remove its drug Bextra from the market after studies showed serious risks of developing SJS and other severe disorders.
• Onfi—In 2014, the FDA warned that the antiepileptic drug Onfi (clobazam) could potentially cause cases of Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). This prompted changes to the drug labels and medication guide, to better warn consumers of the risks.
• Zyprexa—With a new FDA warning on Zyprexa causing serious skin reactions, there is concern in the medical community about new related cases of SJS as well.
• Ziprasidone—There are reports of Stevens-Johnson symptoms induced by antipsychotic drugs in the past. The FDA warned in 2015 that cases of Stevens-Johnson syndrome have been reported with ziprasidone exposure, another antipsychotic medication.
Children’s Motrin Causes SJS
Stevens-Johnson affects people of all ages, but a large number of victims are children. In one high-profile lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson, a family was awarded $63 million after a young girl was left permanently blind, which the plaintiffs said was caused by Motrin.
The jury determined that Johnson & Johnson failed to provide sufficient warnings about the potential side effects of Motrin. In fact, as of 2003, the over-the-counter medication for children contained no warning at all.
In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration instructed makers of ibuprofen and other common painkillers to amend the warning labels on their products.
Johnson & Johnson was found liable in at least two other major cases. In 2011, a California jury awarded a $48 million judgment, and in Philadelphia in the same year, a court awarded $10 million.
What are the Symptoms of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome?
If the condition progresses untreated, symptoms can increase and worsen over time. Such signs and symptoms include:
• Mouth sores
• Swelling of eyelids
• Flu-like symptoms (fever, fatigue, headache, sore throat, cough)
Because many physicians and medical personnel are not familiar with the symptoms, treatment of SJS is frequently delayed, worsening the condition. Severe cases may lead to serious health consequences. SJS can cause blindness and results in death in 10 to 30 percent of cases.
Further complications can include:
• Permanent blindness
• Dry-eye syndrome
• Lung damage
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
• Permanent loss of nail beds
• Scarring of the esophagus and other mucous membranes
• Chronic fatigue syndrome.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and have questions about the root cause and the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions
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