Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is most commonly caused by an allergic reaction to a prescription or over-the-counter medicine. However, cocaine has recently been added to the list of drugs that can cause SJS. In addition, SJS can also be caused by an infection or illness.

Drugs that can cause SJS include:

  • antibiotics (penicillin and sulfas)
  • cough and cold medication
  • anticonvulsants
  • pain relievers (both prescription and over-the-counter)
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • anti-gout drugs

Specific medications that can cause SJS include:

  • Dilantin
  • Zevalin
  • Provigil
  • Bextra
  • Celebrex
  • Ibuprofin, Motrin and Advil

Infections known to cause SJS:

  • Herpes (herpes simplex or herpes zoster)
  • Influenza
  • HIV
  • Diphtheria
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis

Exact Causes of SJS Unknown

Although drugs and infections are linked to causing SJS, 25% to 50% of all cases derive from unknown origin. Moreover, the exact pathogenic mechanism that causes SJS is unknown. Some experts suggest that altered drug metabolism patterns and overactive immune response could be causes. Additionally, research has identified that the massive skin damage associated with SJS may be caused by antibodies and antigens that become trapped under the skin.

Risk factors that may Contribute to Causing SJS

Stevens Johnson Syndrome is a rare reaction and no test is available to help predict who will develop it. Some factors, however, may increase a person’s risk of developing SJS. For example:

  • Existing medical conditions: Viral infections, diseases that decrease your immunity, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and systemic lupus erythematosus (a chronic inflammatory disease) can contribute to causing SJS
  • Genetics: Carrying a gene called HLA-B12 may cause a person to be more susceptible to SJS

However, regardless of what causes the illness, SJS should be treated as an emergency. Without immediate medical attention, an infected patient’s health will quickly deteriorate. Skin loss from SJS causes heavy scarring which can cause blindness. Additionally, even with treatment, SJS can be fatal.

If you have Stevens Johnson Syndrome, you may be entitled to compensation.  Contact us to learn about your rights and options.

Published November 17, 2011 by