Nine-year-old Kaitlyn Langstaff of Saratoga died 20 months after taking Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS)Children’s Motrin. Two months after taking the same drug, seven-year-old Sabrina Brierton Johnson of Los Angeles went blind. In addition, three-year-old Heather Rose Kiss of New Jersey died a week after taking a few doses of Children’s Advil.

All three children developed Stevens Johnson Syndrome after taking medications containing ibuprofen. Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a rare and potentially fatal skin disease that usually results from an allergic reaction to over-the-counter or prescription drugs. The types of drug that have been linked to SJS include antibiotics, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anticonvulsants, and pain relievers, to name a few. In addition, several specific drugs have been linked to SJS including Dilantin, Zevalin, Provigil, Bextra, Celebrex, Motrin, and Advil.

Although anyone can develop SJS, children develop the disease at a much higher rate than adults. In most cases, SJS develops one to three weeks after taking the causative drug. Initially, patients experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, and burning eyes. Then, after about three days, patients with SJS develop a rash. The rash quickly turns into skin lesions which tend to combine together, creating large blisters.

The hallmark SJS symptom is epidermal detachment, or skin shedding, which occurs when the blisters from SJS result in skin cell death. Medical research suggests that skin cells may die and detach because antibodies and antigens produced due to an overactive immune response get trapped under the skin. The morbid symptoms associated with Stevens Johnson Syndrome can leave permanent scars. Moreover, scarring on the eyes can cause permanent vision impairment or blindness. Of course, the most tragic SJS symptom is death, which occurs in up to 30% of SJS cases.

To date, many SJS victims and their families have filed lawsuits against drug manufacturers whose medications have been linked to SJS. As awareness about the connection between SJS and certain medications continues to grow, the number of SJS lawsuits is expected to rise. Both people directly affected by SJS and relatives of people who have died from SJS should contact us immediately as they may be eligible for compensation.

Published November 17, 2011 by