A teenage girl has won a $109 million payout after a life-threatening reaction to children's ibuprofen left her with brain damage, 20 per lung capacity, blindness and caused 90 per cent of her skin to fall off.
A jury at the Plymouth Massachusetts Superior Court yesterday ordered Johnson & Johnson and its subsidy McNeil-PPC Inc to pay 16-year-old Samantha Reckis and her parents $63 million, which rises to over $100 million when interest is included. Ms Reckis was seven when her parents gave her the children’s ibuprofen Motrin to combat a fever she developed the day after Thanksgiving in 2003.
Despite having previously taken the medication and suffering no adverse reaction, Ms Reckis subsequently developed the potentially fatal toxic epidermal necrolysis, which left her totally blind and caused 90 per cent of her skin to fall off. According to family attorney Brad Henry, Ms Reckis also suffered brain damage, which required surgeons to drill into her skull to relieve the pressure. He added that "thankfully" the brain damage was mild and has only left her with some short term memory loss.
The reaction also left Ms Reckis with only 20 per cent lung capacity after it seared into her respiratory system. Ms Reckis’ family filed the lawsuit in January 2007, claiming that Samantha was blinded by Motrin and alleging that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers that the drug could cause life-threatening reactions. The five-week trial ended on Wednesday when the jury awarded $50 million in compensatory damages to Samantha and $6.5 million to each of her parents. The McNeil unit of Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. said it disagreed with the verdict and was considering additional legal options.
"The Reckis family has suffered a tragedy, and we sympathize deeply with them," it said in a statement, adding that Children's Motrin is "labelled appropriately" and when used as directed is "a safe and effective treatment option for minor aches and pains and fever. A number of medicines, including ibuprofen, have been associated with allergic reactions and as noted on the label, consumers should stop using medications and immediately contact a healthcare professional if they have an allergic reaction," it added.
The toxic epidermal necrolysis Ms Reckis developed inflamed Samantha's throat, mouth, eyes, oesophagus, intestinal tract, respiratory system and reproductive system, forcing physicians to put her in a coma. Toxic epidermal necrolysis is a potentially fatal skin disease that inflames the mucus membranes and eyes and is marked by a rash that burns off the outer layer of skin. In 2011 a girl in Pennsylvania was awarded $10 million payout after an adverse reaction to Children's Motrin caused her to lose 84 per cent of her skin, suffer brain damage and go blind.