The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has sided with a woman previously awarded $21.06 million in damages against the manufacturer Clinoril, which caused her permanent near blindness and skin burns over about 60 percent of her body in a condition known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, or SJS.
The May 2 decision regarding sulindac, an NSAID, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, is significant because it holds manufacturers of generic medications responsible for selling drugs that are unreasonably dangerous. Prior Supreme Court rulings raised the possibility that manufacturers of generics might be completely immune from lawsuits, even if they knew they were harming people. With this decision, generic manufacturers must again consider patient safety.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Laplante dismissed Mutual Pharmaceutical Company, Inc.’s defense that no safer alternative was available, stating that experts in the case testified that aspirin and acetaminophen are safer alternatives to sulindac. Further, FDA approval did not shield Mutual: if a drug is found to be too dangerous, then the manufacturer is responsible for taking it off the market.
According to the decision, plaintiff Karen Bartlett’s doctor prescribed her generic sulindac – sold under the brand name Clinoril – for shoulder pain. That brought on related hypersensitivity reactions known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and toxic chemical necrolysis.
The judge wrote that Bartlett’s injuries were “truly horrific.” She suffered burns over nearly two-thirds of her body, spent months in a medically-induced coma and was tube fed for a year. Now she can’t eat normally due to esophageal burns, can’t have sex because of vaginal injuries and can’t engage in aerobic activities because of lung injuries.
Mutual Pharmaceutical Company claimed the settlement was the largest award in New Hampshire history.
If you or a loved one suffered from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, the attorneys at Lopez McHugh can evaluate whether you have a claim. You should consider calling for a free case evaluation today because every state has deadlines for bringing a claim like this.