SJS/TEN survivor sues drug company for $24 million

A New Hampshire jury will decide whether a drug company is liable for $24 million in damages from its prescription anti-inflammatory medication that caused a woman to suffer from a severe reaction that caused painful burns to break out on her skin and internal organs and made her go blind.

Karen Bartlett of Plaistow, New Hampshire, was prescribed by her doctor the anti-inflammatory drug Sulindac to treat shoulder pain. Bartlett took the generic brand of the drug, manufactured and distributed by Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. Two weeks later, she noticed red spots on her face and irritation around her eyes. Her rash worsened and two days later she was admitted to the hospital complaining that it felt like there were pebbles under her eyelids and in her throat.

Bartlett was diagnosed with Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and its most severe form, toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), life-threatening allergic reactions to medication in which the outer layer of skin blisters and peels away leaving the body vulnerable to infection and other serious complications. Bartlett developed blisters in her eyes, throat, stomach and lungs, which has caused her permanent disability.

Bartlett’s lawsuit claims Sulindac has the highest reported incidents of SJS and TEN compared to other non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drug on the market, which makes the risks far outweigh any benefits it could offer. Two different experts brought by the plaintiff argued that the drug was dangerous and should be pulled from the market.

Bartlett is sewing Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. for $4.5 million for past and future medical bills and lost earning capacity, and an additional $20 million to $30 million in damages to compensate for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.