The parents of a 7-year-old girl on Tuesday sued the makers of Children’s Motrin and several other companies that distribute the painkiller, claiming their daughter lost her eyesight and suffered other severe side effects after taking the medicine.
The lawsuit, on behalf of Sabrina Brierton Johnson of Los Angeles, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against New Jersey-based health care giant Johnson & Johnson, subsidiary McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, and several other firms, including retailers Ralphs Grocry and Albertsons’ Inc.’s Sav-On pharmacies.
Johnson & Johnson is based in New Brunswick, N.J.
In their lawsuit, Kenneth and Joann Brierton Johnson accuse the defendants of negligence, breach of warranty and of concealing from consumersand doctors potential health risks of taking the flu and pain medication, specifically the risk of developing two disorders-Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis-which are typically caused by an adverse reaction to a drug or virus.
Sabrina took Children’s Motrin drops on Sept. 8, 2003, after she came home from school complaining of a fever. The girl had no known drug allergies, according to the suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The next morning she woke up with a high fever and other symptoms, including pink coloration in her eye and sores in her mouth. She was hospitalized, but a day later she was blind in both eyes.
Doctors later concluded Sabrina had contracted Stevens-Johnson Syndrome from taking Children’s Motrin, according to the lawsuit. Since then, Sabrina has undergone multiple eye surgeries.
“In the name of children everywhere, our family wants Children’s Motrin taken off the market until it carries a warning label about the risk of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and describes its symptoms,” the girl’s mother said in a statement.
The complaint also alleges the companies knew of a connection between the medication and the disorders from their own clinical tests dating back I to the late 1980s, and even included warning of such risk with the drug before it became available without prescription.
The retailers who cold Children’s Motrin and another defendant, Cardinal Health Inc., knew or had reason to know the drug had “design laws,” the lawsuit also claims.
Bonnie Jacobs, a spokeswoman for Fort Washington, Penn.-based McNeil, which manufactures Children’s Motrin, said McNail and Johnson & Johnson were aware of a report that a 7-year-old girl allegedly developed Steven-Johnson Syndrome after taking the medication.
“As the makers of Children’s Motrin products, we are deeply concerned by all matters relating to our products and we are investigating the situation, Jacobs said.
She declined to discuss the case further.
A spokeswoman for Sav-On said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
Messages left at the offices Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Health, Kroger Co,’s Ralphs chain, and pharmaceutical distributor McKesson Corp., also a defendant, were not immediately returned Tuesday.
A similar lawsuit was filed against the makers of Children’s Motrin in March 2003. In fact federal lawsuit, filed in San Jose, the parents of a then 9-year-old girl alleged medication left their daughter unable to see, speak, or eat, and accused Johnson & Johnson and McNail of failing to adequately test the drug for over-the-counter use and to properly warn the public.