Massachusetts girl awarded $63M in Children’s Motrin case

Last month, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay a girl and her parents $63 million after she had a life-threatening reaction to a children’s pain reliever that left her with permanent injuries. The girl, who is now a teenager, was given Children’s Motrin-brand ibuprofen at the age of 7 and suffered a rare reaction called toxic epidermal necrolysis.

The side effect caused the girl to lose 90 percent of her skin and suffer brain damage that luckily only resulted in short-term memory loss. But the girl was also left legally blind and her respiratory system was damaged by the condition, and she was left with just 20 percent lung capacity.

The girl’s family sued Johnson & Johnson in 2007, arguing that the company failed to warn consumers that Motrin could cause the life-threatening reactions that were suffered by their daughter. The lawsuit finally went to trial in Boston in January and ended five weeks later on Feb. 13.

If the decision is upheld, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, McNeil-PPC Inc., could pay the girl and her parents a total of $109 million after interest is added. In a similar case from 2011, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $10 million to a Pennsylvania girl who suffered a similar reaction to Children’s Motrin.

Drug manufacturers have a duty under federal regulations to warn consumers of potential risks and side effects associated with drugs they put on the market. If the companies fail to warn consumers about these risks, they can face liability in products liability lawsuits like this one. Drug warnings ensure that consumers are fully informed when they decide whether or not to take a drug or give it to their children.

Source: Associated Press, “Girl, parents awarded $63 million in Motrin lawsuit,” Feb. 25, 2013