Manufacturer, Wholesaler, Retailers Sued in Motrin Case

Dec 29, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The parents of a seven-year-old girl filed a suit against the maker of the pain reliever Motrin, McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, as well the drug wholesalers, McKesson Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc., and retailers, SAV-ON Drug Stores and Ralphs Grocery Company, for failing to provide a warning that the over-the-counter medicine could produce an allergic reaction resulting in Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare and potentially fatal ailment.

According to Reuters, the suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court claims Sabrina Brierton Johnson contracted Stevens-Johnson Syndrome after taking Children’s Motrin. The young girl suffered an allergic reaction that affected her skin and mucous membranes, eventually causing her to lose her eyesight.

“I would like to warn all the parents out there that we followed all directions for this product. The result is that for 16 months my child has been tortured,” said the young girl’s mother Joan Brierton Johnson.

Medical experts say Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is extremely rare, with only two or three cases being reported for every million people in the U.S. and in Europe.

The attorney for the Brierton Johnson family doesn’t think the rarity of cases is of any relevance in this case. According to Browne Green, the pain reliever’s label included an allergic risk warning when it was sold as a prescription medicine. According to him, the manufacturer removed the warning after receiving approval to sell it over-the-counter (OTC).

Dr. Stephen Setter, assistant professor of pharmacotherapy at Washington State University, believes it should be a consideration in the labeling of Motrin and other products containing the active ingredient Ibuprofen.

“Ibuprofen is a very useful drug and works very well in kids, in adults and geriatrics as well,” he said. “It would cause undue alarm if they had an image of Stevens-Johnson in their heads every time they look at an Advil bottle.”

Moderator’s Comment: Should products containing Ibuprofen
be required to warn about the allergic risk potential for developing Stevens-Johnson
Syndrome? Should the drug wholesalers and retailers of the product be legally,
morally or otherwise responsible for what happened to Sabrina Brierton Johnson?

Bonnie Jacobs, a spokesperson for McNeil Consumer &
Specialty Pharmaceuticals, said the company could not comment on the litigation
but did say the company was doing its own investigation.
George Anderson – Moderator

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