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California State Jury Awards $48.1 Million In Motrin Injury Case

LOS ANGELES - (Mealey's) A California state court jury on Oct. 3 awarded $48.1 million to a 22-year-old man who says Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary McNeil Consumer Healthcare failed to warn him that the nonprescription pain and fever remedy Motrin could cause toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), a reaction that produces burn-like injuries to the skin and mucous membranes (Christopher Trejo v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. YC058023, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).


Christopher Trejo says he was 16 when he took Motrin (one form of ibuprofen) for less than one week in October 2005 for pain after playing soccer.  His attorneys say he developed TEN afterward and suffered burns over 100 percent of his body, lung damage, near blindness and a hypoxic brain injury. 

In 2008, Trejo sued Johnson & Johnson and its McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division (now McNeil-PPC Inc.) in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging negligence and design defect for failing to warn on the product's label about the risk of TEN. 

In a statement, McNeil-PPC said it disagrees with the verdict and is considering its legal options.  "Many medications, including ibuprofen, can cause allergic reactions and the specific cause of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), a very rare condition, is difficult to ascertain.  While we are sympathetic to Christopher Trejo's suffering, Children's MOTRIN®, when used as directed, is a safe and effective treatment option for minor aches and pains and fever and we believe the medicine is labeled appropriately," the company said.   

SJS is also a tissue reaction with burn-like symptoms.  TEN is considered a more serious form of SJS. 

Testimony began Aug. 17 and continued for 25 days.  The jury began deliberating Sept. 26 and returned its verdict early on Oct. 3. 

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the Oct. 6 issue of Mealey's Emerging Drugs & Devices.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit] 

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