Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a rare and potentially fatal skin disease that usually results from a  reaction to drugs. Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) is another form of SJS which also usually results from a reaction to drugs. The types of drugs that have been linked to Stevens Johnson Syndrome include both over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs. For example, antibiotic drugs, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anticonvulsant drugs, and pain relievers, have all been linked to SJS. In addition, several specific drugs have been linked to SJS including:

  • Dilantin
  • Zevalin
  • Provigil
  • Bextra
  • Celebrex
  • Motrin

SJS and Antibiotics

Antibiotic drugs, such as penicillin and sulfas, have been associated with causing SJS. When SJS is brought on by an antibiotic, treatment can be complicated. This is because SJS symptoms, like skin infections, are often treated with antibiotics. 


Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or prescription pain relievers, are one of the leading drug classes known to cause SJS. Both Bextra and Celebrex, which are two particular NSAIDs, have been specifically linked to SJS. These two drugs are generally prescribed to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and painful menstrual symptoms. In 2005, the FDA recalled Bextra announcing that the drug’s dangers outweigh its risks. Celebrex, however, is still available on the market.

SJS, Dilantin, Zevalin, & Provigil

In addition to the drugs mentioned above, Dilantin, Zevalin, and Provigil also cause SJS as a severe side effect. While these three drugs are very different from one another, each one has the equal capacity to cause SJS.

First, Dilantin is a popular antiepileptic drug used to manage seizures. The FDA approved Dilantin, manufactured by Pfizer, on November 20, 2001. In addition to the potential to cause SJS, Dilantin may also increase women’s risk of developing osteoporosis.

The second drug, Zevalin, is used to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a type of cancer. Zevalin was developed by Idec Pharmaceuticals, which has since merged with Biogen, forming Biogen Idec. Until the FDA required it in 2005, Zevalin’s manufacturer did not warn patients about Zevalin’s potential to cause SJS.

Finally, Provigil is used to treat narcolepsy. Like Zevalin, Provigil’s original label did not warn patients about the risk of SJS. However, the FDA has since mandated that Provigil’s label be revised to include warnings regarding serious rash, including SJS, hypersensitivity reactions, and psychiatric symptoms.

If you or a family member developed SJS after taking these drugs, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.  Please contact us today to learn more. 

Published November 17, 2011 by