The U.S. Supreme Court has recently denied a petition filed by Johnson and Johnson and one of its subsidiaries appealing a $140 million verdict that was upheld by a Massachusetts state court. The case the appeal stems from is about a girl named Samantha Reckis, who suffered a rare but serious allergic reaction to Children’s Motrin that left her blind and without 90% of her skin at the age of 7.
The actual condition that Children’s Motrin caused Reckis to have is called Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN for short). It is a skin condition in the same class as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS). Both TEN and SJS can cause flu-like symptoms but the real difference between the two is that TEN is considered more serious because it is characterized by having blisters that cover 30% or more of a person’s body. In some cases, TEN can even affect the eyes or mouth (as in Reckis’ case).
TEN and SJS are both considered rare diseases, usually only occurring in 1-2 people out of every 1 million. However, these diseases are not to be taken lightly, because they can be potentially fatal if not treated immediately. Both diseases are believed to be caused by reactions to a medication (like Children’s Motrin) or an infection.
In the lawsuits that have been filed against the companies, most of them are alleging that McNeil and Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers of the very serious allergic reaction that can occur (causing SJS or TEN) after taking Children’s Motrin. Lawsuits can still be filed on an individual basis against Johnson & Johnson and their subsidiary McNeil, PPC Inc., who manufactures the Children’s Motrin.